Think of Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions like practice for the championship game or a dress rehearsal before the big performance. While they can be somewhat uncomfortable or unsettling, Braxton Hicks are actually good because they work to tone your uterus in preparation for delivering your baby.
But how do you tell the difference between BH contractions and labor contractions? Sometimes even experienced moms get them confused.
Braxton Hicks Contractions vs. Real Labor
For starters, BH contractions can show up about halfway into your pregnancy. Some women start to feel them as early as 20 weeks and others don’t feel them until closer to their due date. If you don’t feel them at all, you’re not alone, so don’t panic.
If you start to feel twinges or discomfort, here are some common characteristics of Braxton Hicks contractions:
- They’re inconsistent and infrequent.
- The tightening is localized to the front of your belly.
- They’re uncomfortable but not generally painful.
- The belly changes shape and hardens during the contraction.
- They stop or start when you change positions or activity.
BH contractions don’t gain intensity as they go, so if you’re experiencing a noticeable increase in pain and discomfort, you may be in labor. Labor contractions also come at regular intervals and last longer as you progress.
If there’s any doubt whether you’re having BH contractions or are in labor, call your doctor or midwife or head to the hospital.
The staff at All About Women is here to help, so don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions regarding your pregnancy.
To read more about Braxton Hicks contractions, check out our article: Understanding and Identifying Braxton Hicks Contractions.