Braxton Hicks contractions are intermittent uterine contractions that start in early pregnancy, although you most likely won’t discover them till sometime after midpregnancy. (Some women never discover them.) They’re named for John Braxton Hicks, the English doctor who first explained them in 1872.
As your pregnancy advances, Braxton Hicks contractions tend to occur somewhat regularly, but till you get to your last few weeks, they’ll probably remain irregular, irregular, and painless.
Nevertheless, in some cases Braxton Hicks contractions are difficult to distinguish from early signs of preterm labor, so play it safe and don’t try to make the medical diagnosis yourself. If you have not strike 37 weeks yet and you’re having regular contractions, or if you have any of the signs of preterm labor listed below, call your company immediately.
What Do Braxton Hicks Feel Like?
Braxton Hicks contractions start as mild tightening in the front of the uterus. They are felt higher in the stomach in contrast to something like menstrual cramps.
Though they might be visible as early as week 20, usually mothers don’t observe these practice contractions up until much later in their pregnancy, if at all.
Some women notice a contorted belly shape during a Braxton Hicks contraction. Others have actually observed a tightening up, and some difficulty breathing during a BH contraction.
Though some women feel absolutely nothing during Braxton Hicks contractions, others notice a tightening sensation and some even experience moderate discomfort and even pain.
Nevertheless, there is usually no low or deep pelvic aching or pain like in true labor and with menstrual cramps. If there is low pain related to Braxton Hicks, it is not likely to wrap around the body like true labor contractions do.
Briefly, Braxton Hicks feel like:
- a tightening or hardening of uterus
- are usually felt “high” versus low in pelvis
- not lasting … usually for 20 minutes to one hour
- disappear by themselves and do not escalate
- can decrease in intensity with rest, fluids or time
How to Differ Braxton Hicks Contractions and Real Labor?
In the days or weeks quickly before labor, Braxton Hicks contractions may become rhythmic, reasonably close together, as well as painful, potentially fooling you into believing you’re in labor. However unlike true labor, contractions during this so-called false labor normally don’t grow consistently longer, more powerful, and more detailed together.
Braxton Hicks contractions can happen whenever, but you’re specifically most likely to discover them at night, when you’re dehydrated or have a full bladder, and during physical activity or sex.
How Do Pregnant Women Describe Feeling of Braxton Hicks Contractions
- Susan: My stomach feels hard as a rock when I get them. And I have a tough time breathing when I get it too. Mine last at least a minute and it’s tough to move during it. They do make you feel like you got to pee, even if you don’t have too. Hope this assists.
- Monica: My stomach goes solid and feels all tight, then after about 10 seconds it softens, if I’m standing I get a pain down there and a pains in my lower back. If I flex forward a little to launch the pressure it relieves somewhat.
- Peggy: I am 30 weeks with my 2nd baby and I had a c-section with my first at 42 weeks gestational. They put me in labor so I know what labor does feel like, my own remained in my back and hips, however my Braxton Hicks with my first were also in my back in hips and now it feels they are the same with this pregnancy. I am a scheduled section this time around but my doc did inform me that I would experience the loosening and the Braxton Hicks method earlier because I am “a knowledgeable mommy” and my body knows more now what to do.