Trouble Shooting Braxton-Hicks
The first “tip” to distinguish their differences is not only to read descriptions and guidelines about them, but to also touch your awesome pregnant belly often to feel them.
You have to combine what you learn, knowledge, with a “hands-on”, touching approach to avoid confusion when you have a contraction.
Touching your belly often throughout the day (on a daily basis) does a few things for you:
- you feel your baby move, a great sign of baby’s well-being
- you learn how contraction patterns change by feeling them over time, during your pregnancy to labor
- you develop self-trust in what you physically feel
So. What are the differences?
BRAXTON-HICKS (“practice”, “warm-up” contractions). They can start anytime, early in the pregnancy. Some women do not sense them. But you can usually feel them. They can be subtle or more pronounced. They are a normal part of what your body is preparing for.
- they’re mild, usually no discomfort,
- go away when you change your position (sitting to standing, etc.)
- dehydration can cause them – drink a few glasses of water daily
- they do NOT build in intensity
- there is no consistent, established pattern over time (irregular)
- they do not cause cervical dilation
- you can talk through them
During a “practice” contraction, you’ll feel your belly tighten. It will feel taunt and tight, then it will relax and soften. That’s a contraction. You may feel it in the center of your belly, lower, higher, maybe even on the side of your belly. The more you touch your belly the more acquainted you’ll get with the physical sensations you feel. This is important because when labor begins, the quality of the contractions change and you’ll be able to notice the difference, not panic, and respond to them appropriately – for example, calling your midwife or doctor.
LABOR CONTRACTIONS your belly will feel very tight, then relax and soften, but will be much stronger, last longer (60 – 90+ seconds), and increase in frequency.
- build in intensity, they get longer, stronger, closer together
- they develop a regular, repeating pattern over time
- more challenging to talk through them
- they do NOT go away even when you change your position
- they cause cervical dilation
- create a level of discomfort (different for every woman)
- they end when baby is born
Get to know your body. Touch your pregnant belly often. You body will tell you when you’re in labor if you “tune” in to listen. Touch, feel, touch …