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Braxton Hicks Contractions, also known as false labor, are contractions of the uterus that typically are not felt until the second or third trimester, yet some people can feel these uterus contractions as early as 16 weeks into pregnancy. You can think of them as the body's way of preparing for actual labor; however, they do not indicate that labor has begun. If you do not know what's happening or what the sensation feels like, Braxton Hicks Contractions can be startling, especially if you are nowhere near your due date.
It is important to know that if you are unsure whether you are feeling false or real labor pains, you can and should contact your doctor, midwife, or Birthify coach. Here are some simple ways to tell the difference.
Braxton Hicks contractions simulate real contractions and prepare the body for labor throughout your pregnancy. They are normal and are tone plus strengthen the muscles of your uterus. However, they do not lead to labor. Only real contractions lead to labor. This is important to remember when you're close to your due date since Braxton Hicks occur before true contractions.
Signs of Braxton Hicks Contractions:
Occur sporadically, intermittently, and are not consistent in intensity or length
Felt in the low back or abdomen but do not necessarily wrap around the entire belly
Happen as early as 16 weeks into pregnancy
The discomfort is alleviated when you change your position, go for a walk, or drink water.
Contractions are irregular and don't get closer together.
Reasons for Early Braxton Hicks Contractions:
Because baby is moving around
Brought on by activities like lifting, bending, and squatting
Brought on by sex, or orgasms can trigger them
Due to dehydration
Your body is preparing for actual labor.
Signs of Labor Contractions:
Pain intensifies with each contraction over time.
It may feel like a dull ache in the pelvic region, similar to menstrual cramps, and gradually increase to a sensation wrapping around your entire uterus.
Nothing alleviates the discomfort, and it is hard to ignore the sensations.
The time between contractions gets shorter and shorter.
They interrupt your normal day-to-day activities and require your attention and focus.
Okay, I think it's the real deal. What's next?
Practice the 5-1-1 rule, which states: Go to the hospital or birth center when your contractions are 5 minutes apart, they last for 1 minute each, and they've been going on for 1 hour. If you are having a homebirth, this is the time you are going to want to enact your labor plan with your midwife and contact them.
You should never have to guess if you're experiencing real or false labor pains. At Birthify, we believe that arming yourself with knowledge and support are cornerstones to a successful pregnancy. By hiring a Birthify Coach, we can help you navigate what you are experiencing as you move through your pregnancy.
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