When pregnant with my first child I did not know what Braxton Hicks contractions felt like. It wasn’t until my midwife placed my hands on my tightening belly that I figured it out. So, what do Braxton Hicks feel like?
In this article we will explore the feelings and sensations of Braxton Hicks, but also how to differentiate them between true labor contractions. Let’s begin!
What Do Braxton Hicks Feel Like?
Braxton Hicks contractions are uterine contractions that happen during pregnancy that are not labor. For most women, Braxton Hicks contractions feel much different than regular labor contractions.
Braxton Hicks contractions…
- Make the belly feel very firm.
- Are often on just one part of the belly, but can sometimes be all over.
- Are not typically not felt in the back.
- Can be caused by baby moving, kicking, or stretching.
- Can be caused by a woman changing positions.
- May go unnoticed, especially with first time moms.
- May feel painless.
- Can feel very uncomfortable, combined with lots of pelvic pressure.
- Sometimes can feel like period or menstrual cramps.
- For some women, are painful.
“For me, braxton hicks contractions feel like tightening and pressure at the top of my belly.” Heather F., Mother Rising Community Member
“I felt a “wave” of tightening and relaxing starting at the top of my uterus working it’s way down, associated with a mild pain similar to light period cramps.” Sharon S., Mother Rising Community Member
“To me it feels like she’s trying to punch or kick her way out at the top of my tummy. It takes my breath away sometimes.” Susan C., Mother Rising Community Member
Braxton Hicks Contractions Symptoms
If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you’re likely feeling Braxton Hicks contractions, and not signs of labor. However, please consult with your care provider as they know much more about you than a website ever will.
Braxton Hicks contractions…
- Do not increase in length or strength over a period of time.
- Do not become closer together over a period of time.
- Can happen because of dehydration. (Stay hydrated!)
- Can be caused by stress, especially physical stress.
- Pester women, especially those with an irritable uterus.
- Sometimes happen after using the toilet.
- Happen during and after sex and orgasm.
- May increase with nipple stimulation.
Unlike Braxton Hicks, true labor contractions become longer, stronger, and closer together over a period of time. Braxton Hicks contractions do not.
Textbooks say Braxton Hicks contractions should not be timeable, however, I disagree. Some women may experience Braxton Hicks contractions that, for at least a short period of time, have some sort of regularity about them.
However, it’s important to remember, Braxton Hicks contractions do not get longer, stronger, or closer together over time.
NOTE: If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant and are wondering if what you are experiencing is Braxton Hicks contractions or if you are in labor, have a conversation with your care provider. I always experienced a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions early on in my second trimester and appreciated the reassurance from my midwife that I was not in pre-term labor. When in doubt, check it out!
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