What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular, often painless squeezing of the uterus. These contractions can happen intermittently throughout pregnancy but are often not felt until the tail end of the second trimester or 28 weeks along. While you should not feel pain, some discomfort is expected. Braxton Hicks are thought to be preparation for real labor and a means of softening the cervix for the final show.
You may be thinking Braxton Hicks are here to increase an already awkward condition, but everything requires practice and labor is no exception. Although now would be a good time for a girls night to commiserate with other moms and pregnant friends about this new symptom causing stress.
What do Braxton Hicks Contractions Feel Like?
Just as period symptoms can be different for each woman, Braxton Hicks are different for most women too. Some women will notice cramping reminiscent of the groin pain during period cramps or a tightness across the abdomen. You should not be experiencing considerable pain, only moderate uneasiness. As your pregnancy progresses, the ache from false labor (another name for Braxton Hicks) can increase. Another woman may be contracting and never even know!
If you get a steady flow of spasms, you may start to wonder if your baby is on the way or stress from wondering if the baby is coming too early. If the contractions you are feeling are practice, then there will be no rhyme or reason to their length or style. Sporadic cramping without real progress which disappears is the epitome of this type of contraction. Sometimes the mild pain will be rather regular leading you to a false sense that labor has started. Don’t panic! If they are not labor, they will slow down, or perhaps you will have four every twenty minutes.
Male physicians who are incapable of experiencing this stomach tightening may inaccurately describe this particular sensation. Friends fans will remember when Rachel rushed to the hospital with Joey and announced to any man who voiced an opinion “No uterus, no opinion.” Do not worry; this scene was dramatized in typical TV fashion and not a true indication of what to expect with false contractions. Seriously, though, we can all sympathize with men miscalculating the vast array of discomfort pregnancy offers.
What Causes Braxton Hicks?
Any number of circumstances can cause spasms in pregnancy. The most common is a lack of water. Hydration is critical to both mom and baby during gestation. Even a full bladder can also cause false labor tightening. Physical activity and not being active enough can also stimulate Braxton Hicks. If your baby is jumping around or dancing this also could start a row of spasming cramps. Another trigger is sex, and even someone placing their hand on your belly could start a tightening sensation.
What Can I do to Ease Discomfort?
To ease the uncomfortable cramping try first to figure out what caused the contraction in the first place. If you have been sedentary, try going for a walk. Maybe you were walking around the mall for hours when suddenly an uncomfortable tightness overwhelms you, try sitting down and people watching for a while. If your bladder is full, excuse yourself to the restroom. If you and your mate are in the throes of passion, now might be the time for a break and a glass of water. Maybe the tightening starts as you realize you ate three cheeseburgers, yours and your mate’s fries but no drink. Grab a water or sports drink and fill up. Sometimes changing your position can be enough to alleviate this nuisance.
Basically, whatever you are doing, do the opposite. The contractions might still plague you, but at least you can say you exercised today or relaxed, just what the doctor ordered. This could also be an opportunity to abuse your pregnant status to your advantage when you do not want to cook dinner. With a little persuasion, your man should be willing to go to Applebee’s to fill your latest craving once he is aware the baby is unhappy. Most importantly, do not spend time listening to the horror stories of pregnancy veterans trying to scare you out of your wits. Every new mom will live through their pregnancy joys and downfalls.
Difference Between Braxton Hicks and True Labor?
Distinguishing factors can determine if you are ready to pop out a baby or are still in the practice stage. Irregular contractions or variable intensity is a clear indication of Braxton Hicks. Infrequent spasms are another sign of false labor. If the contractions are not, rhythmic chances are you are experiencing false labor. Your uterus is rehearsing for game night if there is no evident predictability to your spasms.
True labor contractions will become regular and measured. You can pull out a stopwatch and find a pattern. Mind you this is normally the case, but every woman experiences labor in a different way. Braxton Hicks tend to ease when you shift around or start walking, whereas true labor pains will not tapers off but increase in both intensity and frequency despite your efforts to ease them. Last of all fake contractions will only be felt in front of your stomach while true contractions will be like a band around your stomach and back.
When Should I Call My Doctor or Midwife?
Especially for first-time moms, false labor can be nerve wracking and a panicked phone call to the doctor a visit to the doctor’s office is the first line of action. Your doctor or midwife should be available to assuage your fears and will avoid embarrassing you or say you are overreacting because you came in for false labor. Reasons you should contact your physician on the phone are if you encounter lower back pain, vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding or spotting, or experience more than four contractions in one hour.
How Can I Keep Calm During Braxton Hicks?
The most important thing to do during practice contractions is to remain calm. Try your normal methods to calm yourself down, accept a bottle of wine. Try a relaxing bath, putting a pillow under your feet and watching TV in bed, or taking a nap. Walking is a fantastic way to clear your head and calm the spasms.
Childbirth classes are a wonderful method of remaining calm during pregnancy. These classes keep experts on hand to guide you through your pregnancy and peers who can commiserate with you and share in the joys. Previously pregnant friends and family may have a wealth of knowledge stored but do not allow them to scare you with the details. Enjoy your pregnancy and do not worry too much about the fear of the unknown.