As you near the end of your pregnancy, you're likely being overly cautious and nervous that anything you do will send you into labor. You've probably felt a tightening or a slight uncomfortable feeling in your belly that might trick you into thinking you've gone into labor too early. Never fear though, because these "practice contractions" are actually normal, and you're not in labor just yet. There are several things to know about Braxton Hicks contractions to help you differentiate between them and the real deal, because sometimes it can be hard to tell, especially for first time moms.
Unlike true labor contractions, Braxton Hicks contractions can be stopped. According to What To Expect, they're usually triggered by something simple and can be slowed or stopped by sitting down, putting your feet up, or drinking water. Although they may catch you off guard, according to Parents, thinking of them as "practice contractions" that help tone your uterus for labor will help you welcome them instead of fear them.
However, if you're having lots of Braxton Hicks, be sure to rest or drink water, as they can lead to pre-term labor if they're happening too frequently. Ultimately, Braxton Hicks are a sure sign that your pregnancy is almost over and soon you'll be able to meet the little one you've been nurturing for the past nine months.
1. They're Often Confused As False Labor
If you're full term (or even a few weeks before) you've probably experienced these "false labor" contractions. According to What To Expect, Braxton Hicks contractions are often mistaken as "the real deal", especially by first time moms who haven't experienced labor before. It's understandable, but knowing the difference can save you a disappointing trip to the hospital.
2. They're Unpredictable
Unlike true labor contractions, Braxton Hicks will come and go unpredictably. According to the American Pregnancy Association, things like sex, overactivity, or even simply touching your belly can trigger Braxton Hicks, but they'll never be predictable, like real contractions which are regular and increasingly uncomfortable.
3. They Might Be Uncomforatble
Although they don't usually hurt, many moms experience discomfort when they're having a Braxton Hicks contraction. They won't get progressively worse though, and the contractions should go away with relaxation or water, according to The Bump.
4. Your Belly Will Get Hard
It's an odd sensation, but one you'll probably get used to towards the end of your pregnancy. Your belly will be hard one minute and soft the next, and you can probably guess the culprit: Braxton Hicks. According to Family Education, there's no reason to worry if you feel your belly getting tight, unless it's accompanied by increasing pain, and they're regularly getting closer together.
5. You Might Not Ever Feel Them
According to What To Expect, some women never experience any Braxton Hicks contractions, or at least they don't notice them.