When you’re pregnant for the first time, you experience a long list of new sensations. Morning sickness, breast tenderness, needing extra sleep, and having to urinate with frequency are some of the most common symptoms. Then there are the cute surprises — such as when you feel your baby kicking for the first time, or reacting to your voice or to music. But what about when the birth is right around the corner? While you expect contractions, it may be difficult to differentiate false labor from when it’s really time to go to the hospital. What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions are a tightening sensation around your abdomen during pregnancy. This is something your body does to tone your uterus and cervix as your body gets ready for childbirth. They could occur at any time during pregnancy, but it’s common to start feeling them sometime during the second trimester — especially during a first pregnancy. While noticeable, they are not strong enough to push out your baby.
Some women never experience Braxton Hicks contractions. Those who do may experience discomfort similar to period cramps or a strong urge to defecate.
Symptoms of Braxton Hicks Contractions
When you first start experiencing them, Braxton Hicks contractions can last up to 30 seconds. However, towards the third trimester, they can last up to two full minutes — which can cause a false alarm if you’re pregnant for the first time. Signs that the tightening sensation you’re feeling are Braxton Hicks contractions include:
- The cramps begin at the top of the abdomen, then radiate downward
- They are irregular and infrequent
- They subside when you switch positions
- They’re more noticeable after exercise or sexual intercourse
- They do not increase in intensity — and they are relatively mild
Braxton Hicks contractions place childbirth at the forefront of your mind, but the experience is very different from going into labor — which includes contractions at regular intervals that get stronger over time. In addition, real labor comes with additional symptoms, such as back pain, vaginal discharge, and your water breaking.
Are Braxton Hicks contractions painful?
While they can be uncomfortable, they are not painful — especially when they become more pronounced as your due date approaches. Staying hydrated will help maximize your comfort during this time of pregnancy. In addition, you may feel them while having sexual intercourse during your third trimester. If such is the case, switch positions until the tightening sensation subsides.
Home Remedies for Braxton Hicks Contractions
If Braxton Hicks contractions are making you feel uncomfortable, there are several things you can do at home to make them subside. These include staying hydrated, going for a leisurely walk, or taking a warm bath. If you’re going to childbirth education classes, you may also learn breathing exercises to help you manage them. However, keep in mind that these types of contractions are normal and are not a cause for concern.
Call OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch for More Information
At OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we provide a variety of services. No matter your age or medical history, we’ll help you feel comfortable and answer all of your reproductive health-related questions.
Call us today to schedule an appointment.