It’s natural to think you’re going into labor when you experience contractions during pregnancy. Sometimes, however, you may be experiencing something called Braxton-Hicks contractions. Think of these as a sort of “practice” contraction, preparing your body for your baby’s arrival. Always consult your OB GYN in Jacksonville if you are unsure about whether you are experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions or going into labor. Here’s more about Braxton Hicks contractions and how they differ from real contractions that signal labor.
What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?
In 1872, an English doctor named John Braxton Hicks was the first to medically describe these sporadic uterine contractions. These contractions are also referred to as “false labor”. They may occur in the early weeks of pregnancy and can continue until you go into labor.
Women most commonly begin noticing Braxton Hicks contractions in their second or third trimester. Some women, however, never experience them at all. They often increase in frequency and intensity as you get closer to your due date. These contractions differ from actual contractions in that they are more random with no real pattern. They also do not get stronger or closer together like real contractions. Braxton Hicks contractions can be described as:
- Contractions that come and go and are non-rhythmic
- They are irregular in intensity
- They don’t get stronger or closer together
- Emptying your bladder causes them to go away
- They stop when you change your position
- They are generally more uncomfortable than painful
What Are Real Contractions?
It can be difficult, especially if it’s your first pregnancy, to tell which type of contractions you are experiencing. Real contractions occur when your body releases oxytocin, stimulating your uterus to contract. They typically begin around your 40th week of pregnancy and signal that you are in labor.
Real contractions can be described as feeling like a wave. The pain starts low, peaks and ebbs away. Your abdomen will feel hard to the touch when you’re having a contraction. Contact your OB GYN in Jacksonville if you think you’re experiencing contractions and are in labor. Real contractions can be described as:
- Contractions that are evenly spaced, in regular intervals
- The time between them gets shorter
- They feel like a tightening or cramping
- They become more painful and intense over time
- It may feel like the baby has dropped lower
- You may see a “bloody show” of pink or bloody mucus when you use the bathroom
Alleviating Braxton Hicks Contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions are not typically painful, but they can cause you to feel uncomfortable. They may be triggered by activity, dehydration, a full bladder or sex. Here are some things you can do for relief:
- Change your position
- Walk around a little bit
- Take a warm bath to relax
- Empty your bladder
- Stay hydrated with plenty of water
- Drink some herbal tea
- Try deep breathing exercises to ease your discomfort
Contact an OB GYN in Jacksonville
If you’re ever unsure if you’re in labor or experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, contact your health care provider as soon as possible. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
For exceptional obstetric and gynecological care, contact North Florida OBGYN of Jacksonville Beach. Our offices are conveniently located on 13th Avenue South in Jacksonville Beach. Call us to schedule an appointment at 904-479-3493.