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Braxton Hicks Contractions / False Labor Pain

Written by Avinash Ramani, M.S. (Biotechnology)  | Medically Reviewed by dr. simi paknikar, MD on Feb 26, 2014
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Braxton Hicks contractions, also called as prodromal labor or false labor pains are sporadic, unpredictable uterine contractions that mostly occur in late second trimester and in third trimester.

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Braxton Hicks contractions prepare the body for the true, real labor. They are usually infrequent, irregular and do not last for long time. When the Braxton Hicks contractions may come more frequent, perhaps every 10 – 15 minutes in advanced pregnancy, then it is referred to as Pre-labor.

False Labor Pain

Causes of False Labor

Braxton Hicks contractions are contractions or tightening of uterine muscles for about one to two minutes to aid the body in its preparation for childbirth. Not all expectant mothers will feel these contractions. However, some common factors such as increased baby activity, excessive stress in the mother, dehydration, touching or rubbing mother’s abdomen, or having a full bladder can possibly prompt Braxton-Hicks contractions.

False Labor Pain Stress

Difference between Braxton Hicks Contractions and Labor / Delivery Contractions

Braxton Hicks Contractions Labor / Delivery Contractions
  • Are infrequent, and usually happen only a few times a day.
  • Longer, regular, frequent, rhythmic and increasing intensity.
  • Often stop when mother changes position or switches activity.
  • Much painful, with increasing pain intensity and contractions.
  • Are irregular, or even if they are regular in the last trimester, do not last for more than a minute or two.
  • Contractions persist despite movement or changing positions.
  • Are unpredictable and non-rhythmic, however, could turn rhythmic in prelabor in advanced stage of pregnancy.
 
  • Do not increase in intensity.
 
  • As pregnancy progresses, Braxton Hicks contractions may become more intense, and even painful at times, however, they eases off quickly.
 
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Managing Braxton Hicks Contractions

Dehydration causes muscles spasm and leads to contraction, and is one of the factors behind extended Braxton Hicks contractions. Drinking adequate water or Lemonade will help in easing pains.

False Labor Pain Drinking Water

False labor contractions stop when the position is changed. Hence, taking a walk when at rest or taking rest and relaxing if on foot will help in easing contractions.

Pranayama or Rhythmic breathing will alleviate the discomfort of Braxton Hicks contractions

A full bladder can trigger Braxton Hicks, so urination may ease contractions

Eating a snack or a meal can ease Braxton Hicks if caused by increased baby activity.

False Labor Pain Eating

Having a warm bath may also help in managing intense Braxton Hicks contractions that usually occur in late pregnancy.

Reference:

  1. Braxton Hicks contractions - (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braxton_Hicks_contractions)

Latest Publications and Research on Braxton Hicks Contractions

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