Usually, towards the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, many women start to feel tightening and moving of the uterus. The pain they experience is almost like contractions. However, they are not really labor pains, but false contractions. Known as Braxton Hicks contractions, they basically help the body prepare for real labor. Some women feel them for a long duration; some feel them for a couple of minutes, while others don’t feel them at all. The time period, when women start feeling false contractions, is usually known as ‘pre-labor’. It has been seen that some women do not feel much pain or experience great discomfort during their contractions. However, a few experience intense pain and stronger contractions. Read on to know the symptoms of Braxton Hicks and other important information about them.
Way back in 1872, an English doctor named John Braxton Hicks, observed and studied the later stages of pregnancy. He concluded that maximum women felt contractions just weeks before their due dates were predicted. Though these contractions did not lead to labor, they were almost like labor pains. He concluded that though the contractions were essentially painless, they helped the body to get prepared for the real thing and gradually softened the cervix. Ever since then, these contractions have been known as Braxton Hicks contractions.
Characteristics of Braxton Hicks
The major characteristics that can be associated with Braxton Hicks contractions are as follows:
- Irregular in intensity
- More uncomfortable than painful
- Do not increase in intensity, or frequency
- Taper off with time and then disappear altogether
Symptoms - How Do They Feel Like
Different women feel different kind of Braxton Hicks contractions. The symptoms vary from person to person, depending on a number of factors, like age, weight, genes, physical strength, etc. However, the most common symptoms of contractions have been listed below, so that you get an idea as to how do Braxton Hicks contractions feel like.
- Contractions with longer time intervals between them
- Contractions weaken after some time
- Contractions felt only in the front
- Contractions cease after some time (20 seconds to 2 minutes)
- There is no change in the cervix even though you experience contractions
What To Do
- Dehydration is one of the factors that can result in the muscles spasms that bring on a contraction. This is supposedly a factor in perpetuating extended Braxton Hicks contractions. Drinking plenty of water is important as adequate hydration can help against these contractions.
- Rhythmic breathing may also help alleviate the discomfort and uneasiness caused by Braxton Hicks contractions.
- The pain of contractions can be reduced by lying down on your left side.
- It has also been seen that sometimes, a slight change in movement can result in the disappearance of contractions.
- The contractions may also be triggered by a full bladder. In this case, urination may ease or end the contractions completely.