Braxton Hicks Contractions: Causes, Symptoms and Relief

Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular, painless, unpredictable uterine contractions that occur during the pregnancy. They do not get stronger and disappear in general.  They might start around week 20 of pregnancy. Some women may feel them, others won’t. Most women get confused between them and true labor contractions. These contractions were named after Dr. John Braxton Hicks a British gynecologist who described them for the first time in 1872.

What causes Braxton Hicks contractions?

Doctors think that these contractions are essential in preparing the uterine muscle for the real labor. They might be triggered by several factors as:

-          Dehydration

-          Full bladder

-          Very active mother

-          After exercising or after sex

What can I do to relief Braxton Hicks contractions? 

Try the following steps to ease the Braxton Hicks contractions:

-          Change your position and try to relax. True labor contractions won’t disappear whatever you do.

-          Take a warm bath

-          Drink lots of water

-          Practice some relaxing technique as yoga.

If these techniques did not release you, contact your doctor.

What is the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and True Labor?

Here is a list of different symptoms that you can feel and makes you differentiate Braxton Hicks contractions from True Labor contractions:

Braxton Hicks Contractions True Labor Contractions
Irregular Contractions Regular Contractions
Contractions do not get closer Contractions gets closer
Weak contractions Strong contractions
Relaxing and changing position release the contractions Contractions continue to get stronger whatever you do.
Cervix does not soften and remain unchanged Cervix gets thin and opens with the contractions
Painless contractions Intense contractions that start from the lower back and move to the front.
No fluid leak or vaginal discharge Fluid leak, bleeding and vaginal discharge.

It is very important to call your doctor once you feel true labor contractions that last around 1mn and are five minutes apart for an hour.