We all know someone who it has happened to—a woman rushes to the hospital thinking she’s in labor, only to find out that her contractions are only Braxton Hicks.
Braxton Hicks contractions can be hard to distinguish from actual labor, even for second or third-time moms.
Braxton Hicks contractions are named after the English doctor John Braxton Hicks, who was the first to notice and describe that women often felt contractions even when they were not ready for birth.
7 Interesting Facts About Braxton Hicks Contractions
- Braxton Hicks contractions are, in fact, contractions. However, they aren’t as intense, they are irregular and they aren’t strong enough for dilation or pushing out the baby.
- BH contractions can start as early as 6 weeks, but most women don’t notice them until after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Braxton Hicks generally get stronger the further along you are in your pregnancy.
- Dehydration can cause Braxton Hicks contractions. While “eating for two” isn’t necessarily good advice during pregnancy, drinking enough water for two is definitely important.
- Alternatively, having a full bladder can cause BH contractions. A full bladder can irritate the uterus and cause contractions.
- BH contractions often occur in women toward the end of the day. Your muscles are more tired at the end of the day, and you’re more likely to be dehydrated. Make sure to take breaks throughout the day and drink plenty of water.
- Sex can cause BH contractions. An orgasm releases oxytocin, causing muscles to contract. Men’s sperm also contains prostaglandins, which can cause false contractions.
- BH contractions can be relieved. Real labor contractions cannot be relieved. To alleviate false contractions, try changing your body position or drinking water. Rhythmic breathing (like you would use during real labor contractions) can also help relieve BH contractions.
For more helpful information about Braxton Hicks contractions, including how to tell whether or not you’re actually in labor, read Understanding and Identifying Braxton Hicks Contractions.