When you're pregnant, a lot of weird things happen to your body. Your feet swell, you pee when you laugh, and you deal with some unattractive beauty blemishes (I'm talking to you varicose veins.) But as you near the end of your pregnancy, you'll start to feel some flutters in your belly that could make you think that it's time to head for the hospital. That is, until you find out that they're only Braxton Hicks contractions — a mere preview of the main event. If you're getting close to your due date, you're probably beginning to discover all of the weird things that happen to your body during Braxton Hicks contractions for yourself.
As the American Pregnancy Association mentioned, Braxton Hicks contractions are named after the English doctor, John Braxton Hicks, who discovered the contractions that many expectant mothers experience before going into labor in 1872. According to What to Expect, Braxton Hicks contractions can begin anywhere around week 20 of your pregnancy and will increase in intensity until your actual labor begins.
If it is your first pregnancy, you may be more likely to mistake Braxton Hicks contractions for the real thing. However, as Medicine Net points out, this "false labor" is usually not as painful as the real deal and does not occur in regular intervals like the contractions that take place during actual labor. Braxton Hicks contracts are also usually shorter than real contractions.
As What to Expect explains, Braxton Hicks contractions cause your uterine muscles to tighten. You also may notice that your abdomen becomes hard and even a bit pointy in the process. You may also notice a discharge that is streaked with blood that is often referred to as bloody show.
Although they can happen any time, a full bladder, having your belly touched, and even sex are the most common triggers of Braxton Hicks contractions. If you're experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, taking a warm bath, changing your position, and drinking herbal tea can help alleviate some of your discomfort, as the American Pregnancy Association suggests.