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During the last trimester of your pregnancy, your body undergoes a series of miraculous changes to prepare itself for labor and delivery. Some of these changes, such as Braxton Hicks contractions, can be a painless transformation. It is possible, in your rush for labor to begin, to be unable to tell Braxton Hicks contractions and real contractions apart.
What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Throughout pregnancy, the uterus contracts sporadically. These contractions can sometimes be felt by the mother, but are usually too weak to help dilate the cervix.
These contractions, which are also known as practice contractions, are called Braxton Hicks contractions. Braxton Hicks contractions were first explained in 1872, by an English doctor by the name of John Braxton Hicks, giving these contractions their name.
Can Braxton Hicks Turn Into Real Contractions?
Some mothers actually begin to feel Braxton Hicks contractions earlier during their pregnancies. However, this does not mean that labor or false labor is going to occur early in the pregnancy and cause premature labor. The Braxton Hicks contractions are only there to help to prepare, or exercise, the uterus for labor and delivery. So when your pregnancy is near term, you may expect your Braxton Hicks to fade away and be replaced with real contractions.
How Long will you have Braxton Hicks before Real Contractions?
A Braxton Hicks contraction, which tightens the muscles of the uterus, usually lasts only 30-60 seconds long. As pregnancy progresses, the Braxton Hicks contractions tend to get more intense and even painful. Real contractions may then take the place of Braxton Hicks when pregnancy reaches term.
When the contractions become rhythmic they are often referred to as false labor. Sometimes, light activity such as loading groceries or sweeping will cause the Braxton Hicks contractions to come more frequently.
Braxton Hicks contractions, later in pregnancy, will often turn into pre-labor contractions. During pre-labor, the contractions work to efface and dilate the cervix in preparation for labor and delivery. The contractions also work to soften the cervix. The more work was done during pre-labor, the shorter the mother’s labor tends to be.
How do you know the difference between Braxton Hicks and Real Contractions?
It is sometimes difficult to distinguish Braxton Hicks vs. real labor. Braxton Hicks contractions will come frequently, but will not progress, and eventually stop.
Also, if the mother switches positions or soaks in a warm bath, the false labor contractions will often come to a sudden stop. During real labor, the contractions will continue to progress and will become regular overtime.
During a Braxton Hicks contraction, the tightening is centered around the abdomen. During true contractions, the tightening will occur in the abdomen, but the pain is centered mostly in the lower back.
Timing the contractions is the easiest way to decipher if it is true labor. If the contractions continue in a steady pattern and increase in intensity, it is important to call the doctor.
If the Braxton Hicks contractions actually become uncomfortable, there are several ways to help relieve the pain. Try changing positions, or taking a brisk walk. If that does not help, try drinking a glass of water. The contractions are sometimes brought on by dehydration. When there is a lack of fluid, the uterus tends to become irritable.
Additionally, Braxton Hicks is believed to be caused by the decreasing level of progesterone during pregnancy. To combat your weak and irregular contractions, you may want to look into using organic progesterone cream such as Fertile Balance Cream of Beyond Fertility. The natural, pure USP progesterone of Balance Cream may help lower the occurrence of Braxton Hicks as well as other pregnancy symptoms, including nausea.
The changes that a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy are nothing short of miraculous. Braxton Hicks contractions are just one more thing that the pregnant body must do to prepare itself for labor and delivery. It is important to keep doctors informed of any changes during pregnancy, including a change in the frequency or intensity of Braxton Hicks contractions.
If you are having contractions before these last weeks of pregnancy it could be that your progesterone has dropped too soon. You might also consider progesterone cream at Beyond Fertility Shop up until a few weeks before your due date. Many women who have previously gone into preterm labor have been helped by natural progesterone cream in subsequent pregnancies.