What Are Braxton Hicks Contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions take place during the third trimester of pregnancy. These are different from regular contractions. Whether you are an experienced mom-to-be or a first-time mom, Braxton Hicks contractions can be worrying for you. In this article, we will explain Braxton Hicks contractions and how to know the difference.

Your Body is Getting Ready for Birth

We can look at these contractions as a practice for your body as it changes to prepare for birth. Some midwives even call them practice contractions to help pregnant women understand exactly why their body is contracting as early as the second trimester, NCT reports. We tend to associate any form of contractions with labor, but practice contractions are a way for your body to prepare itself to give birth.

How do They Feel?

Practice contractions begin as early as the second trimester. They are caused by your uterus beginning to prepare for the birthing process. What to Expect explains Braxton Hicks contractions begin at the top of the uterine muscles and will spread downward for 30 seconds. The timing of these practice contractions is irregular and last between 20 seconds and two minutes.

The intensity of these contractions is not the same as real labor contractions. They will cause your abdomen to take on a “pointed” appearance. When occurring early in your pregnancy, practice contractions will not be intense and can be eased with a change of body position. As you move through your pregnancy, you will find your practice contractions will become intense. Your contractions will not be as easy to halt with a change of body position.

Knowing the Difference Between Contractions

There are some ways of understanding the difference between practice contractions and real labor pains. The real labor contractions you face will be regular in length and intensity, growing closer together and more intense as you move closer to giving birth. In the majority of cases, a real labor contraction will last between 30 and 70 seconds in length, with a more intense feeling.

The pain and intensity of labor contractions are accompanied by other signs of labor. The Braxton Hicks contractions are easier to control and are not as intense as labor pains. Your cervix is not affected by practice contractions in the same way as it is with labor contractions that cause you to dilate.

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