Braxton Hicks contractions are false labor pains that usually occur in the third trimester of pregnancy, although they have been known to begin as early as the second trimester. These pains can be alarming for a soon-to-be mom, especially if it’s your first baby. In this article, we discuss how to ease Braxton Hicks like a SmartMom.
Firstly don’t worry. Braxton Hicks are a normal part of pregnancy and your uterus has probably been gently tightening and releasing since about 7 weeks into your pregnancy, you just didn’t feel it. Many doctors believe that Braxton Hicks are a sign that your uterus is getting it’s muscle fibers toned and ready for labor while others suspect that these contractions occur to get the cervix ready by making it shorter and stretchier and ready to dilate. If you are in the later stages of pregnancy then it’s important that you are able to differentiate between Braxton Hicks and actual labor. Braxton Hicks contractions are unpredictable and non-rhythmic. They rarely last very long and usually only occur a few times a day and they usually don’t intensify. If you suspect that you might be in actual labor then it is always better to err on the side of caution and contact your labor ward or midwife.
If you are content that you are just experiencing some normal false labor pains then there are a number of different ways of dealing with it. Often simply changing activity might be enough to help. If you find they are more intense when you lie down then try going for a gentle walk. Likewise if they seem to be worse when you are moving around then try going for a lie down to see if it helps. Many agree that being too active during the later stages of pregnancy can be a cause of regular Braxton Hicks so if you are doing too much then try to take it a bit easier during those last few weeks. Braxton Hicks can be triggered by the simplest of things like being dehydrated, sex, needing to urinate or even someone touching your bump. If you do feel them coming on then try practicing the breathing exercises you were taught for labor. Not only is it good practice for when the big day arrives but it can also help with the unpleasant tightening that occurs with Braxton Hicks. Sometimes a warm bath can help ease the pain or if you are dehydrated then fill up on liquids. Remember though that a full bladder can be a major cause of Braxton Hicks so make sure you go to the bathroom regularly. Just in the way that a warm bath can ease of symptoms of Braxton Hicks, a warm hot water bottle gently held against the tummy might also help. Just make sure the hot water bottle has a cover or is wrapped in a towel. A couple of painkillers might also make you more comfortable.
Remember that Braxton Hicks contractions are common when you are nearing the end of pregnancy but are harmless and not a sign that you are going into labor. If you are experiencing them then try some of the tried and tested tips we at SmartMom have outlined above. And above all remember that regular Braxton Hicks can be an indicator of a stressed out mommy-to-be. So don’t worry about them. Put your feet up and relax.