All about Braxton Hicks contractions

From the second half of pregnancy, generally, the so-called Braxton Hicks contractions begin to be felt: a type of sporadic contractions of the uterus that are painless, although somewhat uncomfortable.

If you are pregnant, you are interested in knowing what they consist of and why they feel. We give you all the answers!

Braxton Hicks contractions are prep exercises before delivery. 

They usually last approximately 30 seconds and, as the pregnancy progresses, they become more and more durable and feel more frequently.

Braxton Hicks contractions owe their name to Dr. John Braxton Hicks. This was the drug that described them in 1872 for the first time.

How does it feel to have these types of contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions, unlike those of childbirth, are painless and sporadic. What it feels like to experience them is a contraction of the uterus and lower abdomen, which contract to later relax again.

These are contractions that, although they do not cause pain, can be somewhat uncomfortable and are characterized by irregularity. Also, they are non-rhythmic contractions, which increase neither in intensity nor in frequency. On the other hand, as they decrease, they eventually disappear completely. 

How to differentiate Braxton Hicks contractions from labor contractions?

Both types of contractions are very different from each other. Labor contractions are very regular, usually happen every two to three minutes and can last from 90 to 120 seconds. Also, they are much more painful. Braxton Hicks contractions are usually painless.

If the contractions are painful or cause difficulties while walking, it is important to visit the doctor to make a proper registration and prescribe any medication, if necessary.

For greater peace of mind, if you are still far from the possible date of delivery and Braxton contractions are repeated more than four times in less than an hour, or are accompanied by other signs of premature delivery, you should call the doctor right now. Labor contractions are more easily identified, since they are more painful than baby kicks, and usually appear at regular intervals.

What causes Braxton Hicks contractions?

Different causes cause Braxton Hick’s contractions. For example, after having sex, by a very active mom or baby, if someone touches the belly of the pregnant woman or as a result of dehydration.

Some doctors and midwives believe that Braxton Hicks contractions are false labor, a way for the body to prepare for the time of giving birth to the baby. It is believed that these types of contractions play an important role in toning the uterine muscle and promoting blood flow to the placenta.

It is also believed that they may have a certain impact on the softening of the cervix. When they intensify, as the time of delivery approaches, they can help in the process of dilation and erasure.

How do you have to act against Braxton Hicks contractions?

If you feel your abdomen is tense, you should sit or lie down and rest. You should lie on your side and change the position. Also, stretching, having a good bath or walking can help reduce contractions.

Finally, to cope with the discomfort at this stage of pregnancy, it is always advisable to practice relaxation and breathing exercises that you could learn in childbirth preparation courses. 

How to relieve them?

Some measures will help you relieve this type of contraction. The best thing you can do to relieve Braxton Hicks contractions is:

  • Change position. If you have been standing too long, you can lie down or vice versa.
  • Take a hot bath. Remember, however, that the bath should last 30 minutes or less.
  • Drink water, tea or milk. This measure can help counteract these contractions, especially if they have been caused by dehydration.

Next, in the following video, Dr. Carlos B. Salvador, a gynecologist at the Gynaikos clinic, explains what type of contractions exist and how to recognize labor.