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Braxton Hicks contractions are practice contractions, but not labor. My body LOVES to contract, and does lots of it before 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.
When I have Braxton Hicks contractions…
- My belly is hard as a rock… think abs of steel.
- I feel uncomfortable and have lots of pressure.
- Typically, I’ll only feel the contraction on one side of my belly.
- I don’t feel the contraction in my back (like labor), but the feeling is concentrated up front in a smaller area.
- They don’t increase in strength and intensity… they’re just annoying.
- They can be close together, and even time-able. Sometimes they’ll be 5-10 minutes apart lasting 45 seconds. And yet, I’m not in labor.
- I might be dehydrated. If I drink A LOT of water and rest, they’ll space out or go away all together.
- They can be caused by the baby moving.
- They can be caused by me moving.
- They can be caused by going to the bathroom or having sex.
I know some moms don’t have Braxton Hicks contractions, 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!)
Were you contracting all the time like me? Or was your uterus oddly quiet? I’d love to hear your story!