As you slowly approach your due date, your guard is up: you're tracking all the movements, watching for all the pre-labor signs, maybe drinking that red raspberry leaf tea to help tone your uterus, when you feel some contractions. They start off in a pattern, causing the rush of emotions that this could be it, then they become irregular. One moment you feel them, the next back to your normal day. So are these contractions?
Yes. They are Contractions
You are not crazy, these are contractions, but they are not labor. Braxton Hicks, also commonly known as 'false labor' can be seen as practice contractions that are helping your body to prepare for labor.
Braxton Hicks vs. True Contractions
So how do you know whether these contractions you are feeling are practice or the real deal? First, see if there is a pattern that forms over the course of an hour. True contractions will be consistent, forming a regular pattern that gets stronger as time goes on. Braxton hicks, however, are irregular and infrequent, lasting anywhere from 15-30 seconds long minutes long. Also, do the contractions stop when you move around? Braxton hicks will stop if you change your position, such as standing or lying down.
Regular pattern forms,
Will last 30-60 seconds in length,
Progressively get stronger.
Do not change with position change
Irregular and infrequent
Vary in length
Do not get stronger
Change with position change
So You Have Braxton Hicks, What Do You Do?
So while they may not be true labor contractions, they still do feel uncomfortable, so what do you do to relieve them? There are several things you can do:
Drink water! Pregnant mamas need to be drinking lots of water, half your body weight in oz to be exact! So first, drink some water!
Move! If you're sitting, then stand. Standing, lie down, and so on.
Use them as practice. If this is your body practicing and preparing for labor, then mentally prepare as well. See what can work to help you through the contraction.
So Is Labor Near?
While you may not be thrilled to hear this, these contractions do not give any indication when labor will actually begin. It could be hours, days, or weeks, so hang in there mama, trust me the baby will come!
When in Doubt, Call the Doc!
If you're not sure if they are true or not, if they continue to increase in strength, or they are not changing when you try some of the suggestions above, then call your doctor/midwife to seek medical advice.