Braxton Hicks contractions symptoms can easily be mistaken for real labor contractions.
However, Braxton hicks contractions are practice contractions, but not labor.
I remember being pregnant with my son, timing my Braxton Hicks contractions (they were 3-4 minutes apart) KNOWING I wasn’t in labor, but really relating with women who had never attended births before or who had never given birth themselves.
You see, since I am a doula I knew that I wasn’t in labor, but if I didn’t know any better I would have thought I was for sure in labor. Yeah, I wasn’t.
Braxton Hicks Contractions Symptoms
When I get Braxton Hicks Contractions I feel…
- Like my belly is hard as a rock… think abs of steel
- Uncomfortable and have lots of pressure
- The contraction on one side of my belly (typically)
- The sensation concentrated up front in a smaller area. Whereas when I was in labor the first time I felt it in my back (like labor)
- Contractions that don’t increase in strength and intensity… they’re just annoying.
- Contractions that are close together, and even time-able. Sometimes they’ll be 5-10 minutes apart lasting 45 seconds. And yet, I’m not in labor.
- Slightly dehydrated. If I drink A LOT of water and rest, they’ll space out or go away all together. (TIP: Carry a water bottle with you at all times! Or try some of these really awesome electrolyte cubes)
- Fetal movement. Baby’s kicks get my uterus contracting!
- Like they can be caused by me moving.
- Like they can be caused by going to the bathroom or having sex.
I know some moms don’t have Braxton Hicks contractions symptoms, especially first time moms.
Honestly, BH can be so subtle you might not even know you’re having them. They could be mistaken for baby movement because a lot of the time they are triggered when baby moves.
Since my uterus is super excited about contracting, I had my midwife check my cervix to make sure nothing was happening. Nothing was abnormal, but I’m glad she checked me out.
Preterm labor is not a laughing matter! Off the top of my head, here are some red flags to look out for if you’re like me and have LOTS of Braxton Hicks contractions.
Preterm Labor Symptoms
- bloody mucus
- back ache
- loose stools
- abnormal pelvic pressure
- gush of fluid from vagina
- position changes don’t stop contractions
- contractions get more intense and closer together
(Obviously, if your back hurts it doesn’t mean you’re in labor. But if you are having some of the other symptoms along with back labor contact your care provider ASAP!)
Signs of Labor – Is It Baby Time?
One way to look at the onset of labor is by comparing it to becoming sick. Some people become sick quickly – they wake up in the middle of the night, throw up and immediately feel achey with a fever. It’s obvious that they are sick!
Others, may feel sniffly for a day or two, after that a mild sore throat sets in, but it’s not until a few days later that the energy levels drop and bed rest is needed. Looking back, it is easy to see when sickness began, but at the beginning, symptoms were so mild it was difficult to determine if it was sickness or just something else. It could very well have been allergies, but a few days in it became obvious that it was actually a virus.
Just like sickness, determining if it is baby time can be obvious or… NOT! Both, and everything in between is normal! Sometimes the best way to determine if you’re in labor is by hindsight – it’s 20/20!
What About You?
Were you contracting all the time like me? Or was your uterus oddly quiet? I’d love to hear your story!