Braxton Hicks contractions are annoying. That’s just the best way to describe them. They aren’t really painful but they kind of make me have to stop whatever I’m doing and hunch over a little bit and focus on my breathing. The tightness of my abdomen just makes me feel like an overinflated beach ball.
These “false” contractions were first acknowledged by Dr. John Braxton Hicks, so that’s his legacy, poor guy. I started getting them around week 34 with my first pregnancy, but with my second pregnancy they’ve been harassing me nonstop! No joke, I had my first Braxton Hicks contraction at week 13. I FREAKED OUT! When it happened, I had no idea they could happen that early and I panicked. After a quick Google search, I realized it happens to a lot of women this early.
The first person I asked was my doctor, who told me dehydration is a common cause of cramping and Braxton Hicks contractions. During pregnancy, women should be drinking water like crazy to stay hydrated. Read more about water consumption guidelines during pregnancy here.
Other causes of Braxton Hicks can include
- Increased activity by either mommy or baby
- A full bladder
- Someone touching your belly
It’s not common to be able to feel Braxton Hicks so early, but apparently, the uterus starts doing these “practice” contractions as early as 6 weeks. Most women don’t feel them until the middle of their pregnancy or into their third trimester. At the end of pregnancy Braxton Hicks are often referred to as “false labor,” but my doctor told me they aren’t false, the uterus really is contracting, but they’re just not productive contractions.
All I know is with all this “practice” my uterus has felt inclined to do throughout my entire pregnancy, it better be a pro during labor and get the job done quickly and effectively!
Until then, there are some things women can do to alleviate the discomfort from Braxton Hicks contractions
- For me, they come at any time of the day and in any position I’m in, so the trick is to just do the opposite of whatever I’m doing. If I’m walking, I stop and sit down. If I’m sitting or lying down, I stand up and walk around. Usually changing positions will give me some relief.
- Eating or drinking something can help since the contractions are linked to dehydration.
- Although I haven’t personally tried it, taking a warm bath may help alleviate the contractions as well. But make sure not to hang out in a warm bath for too long to prevent dehydration.
My doctor told me to monitor my excessive Braxton Hicks contractions to make sure they aren’t actually preterm labor. I have them spread out at least 10 times per day, but having 4 or more in an hour can be a sign of early labor. Call your doctor about excessive Braxton Hicks especially if they’re associated with any other signs of preterm labor or if something doesn’t feel right to you. Trust your gut, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Did you have intense Braxton Hicks contractions? Do you have any tips that gave you relief?