Braxton Hicks Contractions

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What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions – also known as prodromal labor, practice contractions, or false labor– are sporadic uterine contractions named after an English doctor who described them for the first time in 1872.  They can start around six weeks into pregnancy, however they won’t usually occur until the second or third trimester of pregnancy.  Some women do not experience Braxton Hicks Contractions at all.


Braxton Hicks contractions are infrequent, irregular, and usually involve only mild cramping.

They are described as:

  • Irregular in intensity
  • Infrequent
  • Unpredictable
  • Non-rhythmic
  • More uncomfortable than painful (although some women report them to be painful)
  • The intensity does not increase
  • They lessen and then disappear

What should a woman need to know about them:

Braxton Hicks contractions usually begin any time after the 20th week of pregnancy. They begin as a painless tightening, usually lasting about 15 to 30 seconds, but sometimes they can last for longer, causing abdomen to feel very hard and strangely twisted. As you come closer to your due date, these contractions may become more frequent and more intense. 


Braxton Hicks contractions are tightening of the uterine muscles and they are thought to aid your body in preparation for birth, however some mothers do not feel these contractions so it is nothing to worry about if you do not experience them.

There are some causes or triggers of Braxton Hicks contractions, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Full bladder
  • Intercourse
  • Your baby is active
  • After your doctor’s visit

How to mitigate and relieve Braxton Hicks Contractions:

Dehydration can make muscles spasm, bringing on a contraction, and is thought to be a factor in extended Braxton Hicks contractions. Drink a lot of water and stay hydrated to avoid or relieve the contractions.

  • Breathe deeply to alleviate the discomfort.
  • Change positions and rest on one of the two sides.
  • A short walk will help.
  • A full bladder can sometimes trigger Braxton Hicks, so make sure you take regular trips to the restroom.

When Is it necessary to call your doctor?

If pregnancy is still before the 37th week, and the contractions are becoming more frequent, rhythmic, or painful it is important to contact your Doctor.

Signs to call the doctor

  • Menstrual-like cramping pain
  • More than four contractions in one hour
  • Any vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • More pressure in the pelvic area
  • Low back pain.

As with all concerns in pregnancy, if you are worried and feel there may be something wrong after considering Braxton Hicks Contractions it would be wise to contact your Doctor to make sure that all is well and put your mind at rest.


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