Good news! Your body is getting ready for labor

Quick notes:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions aren’t serious, but they do mean your body is getting ready to give birth

  • Towards the end of labor, it can be tricky to tell them apart from real contractions

  • If they’re bothering you, there are things you can do to relieve Braxton Hicks contractions

It is becoming later in your pregnancy, and things are starting to feel, well, a little different. You’re feeling a few pops and maybe some twinges that could be contractions. If this is the case, there’s nothing to worry about. The contractions are likely Braxton Hicks contractions and are a sign that your body is getting ready to go into labor.

If you’re not sure that’s what’s happening, we can help. We’ve got details on Braxton-Hicks symptoms and on what other moms-to-be have said that Braxton Hicks Contractions feel like.

Defining Braxton Hicks Contractions

As with a lot of other things in pregnancy, it can be hard to pin down precisely what it is you’re feeling when you get that unexpected slight twinge or pull. Braxton Hicks contractions are known for causing a pressured sensation that really isn’t painful at all. If they do hurt at all, especially later on in pregnancy, they tend to feel almost like menstrual cramping.

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These false contractions happen as the body practices tightening and relaxing the muscles of your uterus. They last for about a minute or two, they don’t come with any pattern of regularity, and they don’t grow in intensity. You may feel a few for a while, and then they simply stop. Interestingly, not all women feel Braxton Hicks in every pregnancy or at all.

Braxton Hicks contractions versus actual labor pain

As pregnancy moves into its later stages, it isn’t always easy to distinguish Braxton Hicks contractions from the real thing. Generally, actual labor is more painful, and contractions start to occur on a regular schedule. Contractions may also be accompanied by another sign that your baby is on the way. For example, you may lose our mucous plug, get diarrhea, or your water may break. If any of these signs happen, or if you just aren’t sure what’s going on, don’t hesitate to call your doctor.

Later in your pregnancy, you may not be sure if you’re experiencing practice contractions or the real thing. If you have any doubt, don’t try to figure it out yourself, call your doctor.

How to relieve Braxton Hicks contractions

If you’re starting to experience Braxton Hicks contractions and they’re causing more discomfort than you would like, there are things you can do to lessen them. For starters, try to drink some water; these kinds of contractions are known for occurring more often in pregnant women who are dehydrated. A second approach that often helps is to change positions. Lie down if you’ve been sitting or standing. Take a walk if you’ve been at a desk for a while.

While you’re changing positions, try to relax or to do something more enjoyable if you can. Breathe deeply, put up your feet, ask someone to give you a shoulder rub, and take a moment to take care of yourself.

Some mothers-to-be have been known to experience an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions when they’re feeling stressed, which is easy to do during the last days of pregnancy when the list of things you need to accomplish before the birth are piling up.

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