Most pregnant women might have noticed this – a tightening sensation of uterus which feels like contractions coming and going at irregular intervals- either during your first, second or even in the third trimester of your pregnancy. Some feel it only once, and others feel it many a times during their pregnancy. These false contractions are known as Braxton Hicks Contractions.
Braxton Hicks contractions are considered your body’s way of preparing you for the real contractions and delivery. That’s why they are also known as practice contractions. Sometimes you can feel these contractions as early as in the sixth week of pregnancy. Braxton Hicks contraction got its name from Dr John Braxton Hicks who first noticed the occurrence of such contractions in pregnant women far before the real delivery time.
How can you identify if you are having a Braxton Hicks contraction? Well, the chances are that if you have already read about it you can identify it. Those who don’t know what it is may get initially shocked. It feels like a painless and sometimes a little painful tightening of the uterus muscles. That is you can feel it somewhere at the lower part of your tummy with a slight pain (cramping) or discomfort on both sides of your back. Pregnant women often cannot describe the feeling when they get Braxton hicks contraction.
The contractions usually last for less than a minute and are irregular. This is what differentiates Braxton Hicks contractions from a real contraction during your final weeks. Real contractions can get painful, are more frequent and get regular. But then not all pregnant women feel the Braxton Hicks Contractions, only some do.
The logic behind Braxton Hicks contraction is that it helps in making your cervix ready for the impending labor. If you don’t like these contractions, you can do the following: keep yourself hydrated (drink water or juice), lie down to your left side and do some breathing exercises. In the early stages of pregnancy it is easy to identify and manage Braxton Hicks contractions, but as your pregnancy progresses sometimes they get very painful.
Even during such circumstances, try to find out if the contractions are frequent and regular (say coming and going first 10 minutes apart, then later 5 minutes apart). If they are not, then do not worry. To get relief from pain follow some natural methods for pain management.
Contact your doctor- if the pain gets unbearable, you are somewhere between 30- 37 weeks pregnant or you notice any watery discharge or blood.