Braxton Hicks Contractions - Causes, Ways to Alleviate & more
Created by Parentune Support Updated on Jan 29, 2020
Contractions, as we know, indicate the onset of labor. However, there is another form of contractions known as Braxton Hicks Contractions – named after an English doctor John Braxton Hicks. Though these contractions are harmless, they can be as scary as they are uncomfortable.So, if you’re pregnant and reading this, it’s a good idea to know all about Braxton Hicks contractions because most women mistake it for labor pain, particularly if it is experienced just when the due date is a week/10 days away.
What Are Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Typically, women experience these contractions in the third trimester, but there are women who have had them as early as the second trimester..
- The uterus, lower abdomen and the groin area tighten (for about 30 to 60 seconds and at times for as long as 2 minutes) and relax.
- The good thing is they are quite irregular and painless,although there are instances where women have experienced strong and painful contractions. However, in all cases, they are uncomfortable.
What Are The Differences Between Braxton Hicks And Normal Contractions?
At any point during pregnancy, experiencing contractions can be quite alarming, but the good news is, Braxton Hicks is completely harmless. Everyone experiences these contractions differently. When you’re closer to the delivery date, Braxton Hicks might become rhythmic, frequent and sometimes even painful to make you believe that you’re experiencing labor pain. But Braxton Hicks has these characteristics which sets it apart from labor pain.
- Frequency (irregular and doesn’t last for more than 60 seconds or a maximum of 2 minutes)
- Level of pain (Uncomfortable but not painful)
- Strength (they don’t get stronger with time and stop when you change position)
- They gradually taper off and disappear altogether
- These contractions don’t cause labor but are quite annoying and occur at any time (they are more pronounced during the night especially when you are dehydrated or have a full bladder or after sex)
- Changing positions helps alleviate the contractions
- They are usually felt in the front, unlike real contractions which start at the back and gradually move towards the front
What Causes Braxton Hicks?
There are several factors that cause Braxton Hicks contractions, pregnancy being one. Some doctors believe that they play a major role in toning the uterine muscles and promote the flow of blood to the placenta. In fact, they are also known to dilate and soften the cervix. They are often referred to as ‘Practice contractions’ because they help you get the feel of the actual contractions so that when the time comes, you are prepared and ready for the breathing exercises that the doctor asks you to do.
Main causes of Braxton Hicks
- Dehydration is one of the primary causes. Muscle cramps, particularly in the uterus are more likely when you are dehydrated,/li>
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Sometimes when you’re too active you might experience contractions. It is best to rest for a while and then resume work
- Sometimes, after sex some women experience these contractions
- When someone touches the mother’s belly, contractions might be experienced
Ways To Alleviate The Contractions?
The best ways to alleviate these contractions vary depending on what caused it in the first place. Some of them may be:
- As already mentioned, the contractions could be due to dehydration. Drink a few glasses of water until you feel better
- Drink warm milk or herbal tea, whichever you are comfortable with
- Take a warm bath
- Sometimes, simply changing positions can help. If you have been sitting for long, walk. If you have been standing for a while, lie down
- Take slow, deep breath and try to do some relaxation exercises. This does not alleviate the contractions but helps ease the discomfort that these contractions bring about
- If none of the above seems to work, speak to your doctor
If you haven’t reached 37 weeks, you must call your doctor if the contractions are becoming more rhythmic, frequent and painful. However, if you are past 37 weeks, you must still check with your doctor to understand if you need help. There is no need to panic when you experience Braxton Hicks contractions because they are false and merely prepare your uterus and cervix to give birth by toning the muscles.
It is not common as most women don’t experience it at all. But it is a good idea to be aware so that in case you experience it, you need not panic and know exactly how to deal with it. Keep in mind that you must keep the doctor in loop so that she can confirm if you are in actual labor or merely experiencing false contractions.
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