Braxton Hicks contractions were named after an early twentieth-century gynecologist named John Braxton Hicks that was the first person to come up with an accurate description and definition of them. Many people have heard of Braxton Hicks contractions but how many people truly understand what they are?
By definition, they are weak contractions of the uterus that often occur during pregnancy. The difficulty becomes telling them apart from true contractions, especially for first-time parents. They usually start early in the pregnancy, but in general, are not felt until one achieves the midterm in their pregnancy, and in many cases, they are never felt at all.
The main distinguishing factor in determining if contractions are Braxton Hicks or the real deal is the frequency. Braxton Hicks tends to be irregular and do not gain in strength, whereas authentic contractions tend to be more uniform and will start to become more forceful and demanding. If you are ever in doubt as to whether you are experiencing Braxton Hicks or genuine contractions, take a trip to your doctor. It is far better to be safe than sorry.
If you have yet to hit the thirty-seventh week of your pregnancy and are experiencing regular contractions, even if you think they may be Braxton Hicks, contact your doctor immediately as this could be a sign of premature labor. The quicker you seek medical help, the more likely it is they will be able to stop the contractions and keep both you and the baby safe.
Braxton Hicks contractions are usually painless, though they can make you uncomfortable. They are categorized by a feeling of tightening or squeezing in the lower abdominal region or pelvis. On rare occasions, they can bring a sharp pain, but it usually only lasts a few seconds before it is gone, whereas true labor contractions will last about thirty seconds on average.
The pain and frequency of Braxton Hicks may become more evident if one is dehydrated, or if you have a full bladder. Activity can also make these contractions far more noticeable and painful, especially in the last term of pregnancy. Remember to get plenty of rest and to drink copious amounts of fluids.
The best way to battle Braxton Hicks is to try changing position as usually it will alleviate any pain. Try drinking something, or stretching lightly. It may also be a sign that your body is tired so try to take a nap. Deep breathing can also be an aide.
If at any time you experience a rise in frequency or strength, any type of spotting or bleeding or severe pain, contact your doctor immediately as all can be a sign of something more serious.