Braxton Hicks contractions are also known as false labor or practice contractions.
They get their name from the English doctor John Braxton Hicks,
who described them in 1872 as the contractions that occur before the real thing.
Braxton Hicks are explained as the muscles of your uterus tightening for a few seconds or even as long as a couple of minutes.
They can start around the 28th week of pregnancy though can begin much earlier, but you probably won’t be able to feel them until the third trimester.
This tightening is painless though pregnant women often described them as uncomfortable.
It’s common for expectant mothers who have been pregnant before to feel these contractions earlier and some more intensely.
If you do experience this tightening during pregnancy, this is a great time to practice the breathing techniques you have learnt in your child birthing class.
Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between false labor and true labor pains so if you are unsure (and even if you are sure) contact our healthcare professional. It’s better to be safe and properly diagnosed.
Braxton Hicks Contractions are:
Labor Contractions will increasingly get stronger, longer and closer together, they will not fade away at all like false labor does.
These contractions are all part of the preparation process. They help with exercising and toning the muscles of your uterus, while encouraging blood flow to the placenta in getting ready for labor. They also help to soften the cervix.
Braxton Hicks are often triggered by certain things, the most common are:
Try any or all of these things to help relieve your discomfort. If nothing seems to be working you could be going into labor, so call your doctor immediately.
Pre-labor is when contractions start happening more frequently and can be more intense than Braxton Hicks. These can help soften and thin out your cervix, possibly dilating a bit. Your doctor can perform an examination to determine this and to check how things are coming along. Also you can be monitored on a machine to see if you are contracting.
Call your healthcare provider if these contractions are closer than 12 minutes apart, especially before the 37th week. This could be a sign of preterm labor.