While Braxton Hicks sounds like the name of a rugged country singer, it’s actually the term for fake or “practice” contractions during pregnancy. Your uterus can start playing tricks on you as early as the second trimester, but most commonly in the third as you approach your due date.

Braxton Hicks contractions occur in all pregnancies, however many women don’t realize it as they appear so close to their due dates.

Here’s the lowdown on Braxton Hicks Contractions and how to manage them.

What do Braxton Hicks Contractions Feel Like?

The sensation is described as the random tightening or hardening of the uterus for roughly 15 to 30 seconds, beginning at the top of your uterus and making its way down.

The contractions are uncomfortable, yet not painful, shouldn’t increase in intensity or frequency, and will eventually subside.

Contractions that intensify in pain and frequency could signal real labor. If you experience this and are a ways away from your due date (less than 36 weeks), contact your provider immediately.

What Causes Braxton Hicks?

The miracle of pregnancy is full of mysteries and Braxton Hicks is one of them. Medical professionals believe it’s your body getting ready for labor by toning your uterine muscles and increasing blood flow to your placenta, i.e. your uterus is training for the big day —love that story.

Closer to your due date Braxon Hicks are referred to as false labor and can help with dilation (the opening of your cervix) and effacement (the softening and shortening of your cervix).

Braxton Hicks Can be Triggered:

  • • When the mother or the baby is very active
  • • If someone touches the mother’s belly
  • • When the bladder is full
  • • After sex
  • • Dehydration

Source: American Pregnancy Association

Should I Be Worried?

True Braxton Hicks are uncomfortable, yet painless, and don’t intensify or become more frequent; if this is your experience you are most likely fine. However, trust your gut (literally!) and check with your provider if you’re ever concerned. That’s what they’re there for.

How to Manage Braxton Hicks

If your over-achieving uterus is getting on your nerves, there are a few things you can do to calm it:

  • • Stay hydrated.
  • • Drink a warm cup of pregnancy-safe herbal tea.
  • • If they’re happening while you’re active, kick up your feet and rest.
  • • If they’re happening while you’re resting, go for a walk.

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