Sitting and working diligently to stay focused on the tasks at hand, Claudia felt a pang where her belly sat. Then shortly, another one occurred. “Am I having contractions?” Claudia wondered. The pangs weren’t enough to take her breath away, but they were enough to make Claudia stop in her tracks. “Ohmf” Claudia made the audible sound as she sat at her desk placing her palm on top of her belly. Claudia wasn’t yet aware but the tightening she felt were not laboring contractions, they were Braxton-Hicks contractions.
What are Braxton-Hicks Contractions
Braxton-Hicks contractions are often thought of as “practice” contractions. This indication of contractions was named after English doctor John Braxton Hicks in 1872. Braxton-Hicks described these uterine movements as contractions before the onset of labor. Braxton Hicks contractions are inconsistent, unpredictable, and do not increase progressions of labor. Because of this, Braxton Hicks can be mentally unsettling for gestating individuals. Especially as the estimated due date nears.
What Do They Feel Like
One of the ways to tell if the tightening of the belly is Braxton Hicks or early labor contractions is where the contractions are felt. BH contractions are felt around the middle of the belly. Laboring contractions are felt from the top of the uterus. Braxton-Hicks contractions are often described as feeling like dull tightening around the abdomen. While few view these contractions as painful, many feel uncomfortable and like menstrual cramping.
How Can I Tell the Difference
Braxton Hicks contractions generally last around 30 seconds, but can last up to 2-minutes. There are few ways to help determine if the contractions that are being felt are indeed Braxton-Hicks, or if they are something more. Is there a pattern to the frequency of the contractions? BH contractions are irregular and sporadic in nature. What’s the duration of the contractions? BH contractions are shorter in length than laboring contractions. Braxton Hicks contractions will also subside rather quickly.
Strategies of Relief for Braxton-Hicks Contractions
Luckily, Braxton Hicks contractions are maintainable and containable. Drinking hydrating liquids is one way to keep the uncomfortableness of BH at bay. Hydration helps to release the muscle tension in the body, allowing for the body to relax. Laying down or resting is another way to gain relief from BH. With the body at rest, BH contractions will subside. If the contractions continue, even while laying down, begin to monitor the length and time as well as the baby’s fetal movements. Also, think about changing positions. If you have been sitting or standing for long periods of time, change your body positioning to the other. Stand if you’ve been sitting, and sit if you’ve been standing. Another way to alleviate the uncomfortable wrath of Braxton Hicks is to take a nice soak in a warm bath.
Braxton-Hicks contractions are a normal process for the gestating body. These ebbs and flows of uterine movement in the second and third trimesters are expected and while sometimes a nuance, give validation that baby and body know exactly what they need to do for birth. If Braxton-Hicks contractions become more rhythmic, patterned, calculated, more intense, monitor and reach out to your provider. If you are under 28 week pregnant or experience blood loss, these are indications of when something more serious may be occurring in the pregnancy.
Claudia timed the flow of contractions. Irregular. she noted. She laid down on the couch, and conducted fetal kick counts. Normal. she monitored. Claudia noticed that contractions had become null. They were no longer coming and she no longer felt their uncomfortableness. “If this is my body practicing for birth, I’m in for a ride!” Claudia chuckled to herself. “Hey little one, how you doing in there?”