Around my 38th week of my pregnancy, the little contractions I’d get every so often when I didn't drink enough water started happening with more intensity and way more frequently. By then I was dying to meet my baby and actually excited to experience labor. So when I started having more contractions, I foolishly allowed myself to think that I was getting close. Nope. They were Braxton Hicks contractions, which I ended up having for the next three weeks straight. False hope is just one of many reasons why I think Braxton Hicks are worse than actual labor.
There's no doubt that labor is among the most intense physical experiences a person can have. However, as someone who spent almost 22 hours laboring and birthing without medication at home, I much preferred that experience to the annoying, stupid, go-nowhere, do-nothing quasi-contractions that just served to remind me of how freaking pregnant I still was, and how pregnant I didn't want to be anymore. Braxton Hicks may serve a purpose in getting your uterus ready for labor, but for me they were mostly an exercise (heh) in frustration. At least with actual labor, you know you're accomplishing something. Labor is a fast-moving (even if not actually short) trip down a potentially scary but also exciting road. Braxton Hicks, in comparison, are a damn traffic jam and you don't know when or if it will end (and I can't freakin' stand sitting in traffic).
I guess it could have been worse. I ultimately discovered that Epsom salt baths were helpful for the discomfort, and between spending close to an hour a day soaking in the tub and doing just about everything I could think of to try to relax and think of something else besides how uncomfortable I was, I managed. Once my real contractions started, I almost laughed at how mistaken I was when I thought I might be in labor before. That's the thing about Braxton Hicks: they're confusing and they're basically liars and they should just leave already uncomfortable pregnant ladies alone to nest and freak out about having a baby, in peace.
They're Just Strong Enough To Get Your Attention…
Braxton Hicks contractions can be really strong, and since they're usually most noticeable later on in your pregnancy when you're on high alert (and so ready to be done with pregnancy), it can feel impossible to ignore them.
...But Not Actually Doing Anything
OK, sure; Braxton Hicks may help tone your body and prepare you for real labor. However, they're the worst kind of workout. They're like one of those group fitness instructors who starts a countdown when you're already totally over the move you're doing, then stops counting aloud for a few beats, then comes back in at a way higher number than they should, effectively adding several extra reps. You never know when the workout will be over, and you're just huffing and puffing through your irritation.
They Can Be Scary
Unlike when you're in real labor and have your whole birth team around you, you're basically on your own with Braxton Hicks. Especially if you've been faked out enough times that your partner and/or friends are a little tired of urgent texts that turned out to not be a baby.
They Fake You Out
"This is happening! Haha not really though."
— Your Uterus
They Lure You Into Thinking You Might Be Starting Labor…
Especially if you haven't gotten this far into a pregnancy before, Braxton Hicks can seduce you into thinking that maybe, just maybe, you might really be getting ready to finally have this baby. You start getting excited, maybe even start reaching for your hospital bag or birth kit.
...But You're Not. You're Still Pregnant.
They’re Mentally Exhausting…
Real labor is tiring, but it's also so engrossing that you just get absorbed by it. Braxton Hicks can be intense enough to distract you from normal life but, because they don't lead anywhere, they just make it harder for you to do normal stuff. They just play with your emotions and your energy, tiring your brain out without getting your baby out.
...And You're Already So Tired
And huge and sore and achy and all the things, and doing this weird uterus workout is just not helping.
Since You're Not In Real Labor, You Still Have To Do Stuff
When you're in real labor, all you can think about is what your body feels like and the fact that your baby is finally coming, and nobody has any expectations of you except to birth a baby. When you're having Braxton Hicks, you're distracted and uncomfortable, but you still have to go to work, run a home, and be a responsible adult. Ugh.
They Make You Doubt Yourself
If you've had enough false alarms, you may start second-guessing every pain you have because you don't want to be that mom who calls your OB or midwife every other second thinking "Is this it?" or "Is something wrong?"
Real labor is tougher, but at least it's straight up with you. Real labor does the uterine equivalent of slapping you in the face and says, "Yeah, I'm for real right now. Time to make that call."
They Can Make You Freak Out More About The Prospect Of Labor
If your Braxton Hicks are really bugging you, it can make you start to doubt whether you've got what it takes to endure real labor. Just one of the many ways they play with your emotions, because they're the worst.
They Amplify Your Impatience
By the time Braxton Hicks are really going, you're already uncomfortable and impatient and eager to meet your baby. Every fake contraction just teases you, like, "Oh, you thought you were going to have this baby now? Just kidding, you're going to be pregnant for basically forever."