What Are Braxton-Hicks Contractions?

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Braxton-Hicks Contractions actually start in the middle of the pregnancy, at a time most people don't even realize they're experiencing them. The uterus is a muscle and it practices its contractions throughout the pregnancy. Most of the time, mum rarely notice that is a slight tightening of her belly and think that the baby was just falling up.

As her pregnancy progresses, these practice contractions become stronger to the point that she may notice when they come and when they go but they're not really painful. Towards the end of the pregnancy, Braxton-Hicks Contractions can actually mimic real true labor contractions, hence the pain, hence the false trip to the hospital to be told this was not really time and this was not really it.

How did they know it wasn't time? Your cervix didn't change. Braxton-Hicks Contractions do not change your cervix. That's not what gets the job done. They are your practice contractions to help you get ready for the lower event. It may help your cervix to thin out, it may help you lose the mucus plug, it may help push the baby lower and into position, so that they are good thing to have because that brings you closer to having the baby.

Braxton-Hicks contractions will usually change or go away if you change your level of activity, if you drink some water, soak in the tub or shower or eat something. True labor will not go away no matter what you do. You can take that shower, you can walk, you can climb in bed and rest, you can eat and drink, but those contractions will get closer and stronger, will open and dilate your cervix, may cause some bloody show or even break your bag of water.

In true labor, nobody ever asks, is this really labor? So if you're asking yourself the question is this a Braxton-Hicks contraction, it probably is.