Braxton Hicks or True Labor Contractions?
What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
Before "true" labor begins, you may have "false" labor pains, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions. They are your body's way of getting ready for the "real thing."
You may feel these irregular contractions of your uterus during the third trimester, although they may start to happen as early as the second trimester. They are perfectly normal and not anything to worry about.
What do Braxton Hicks contractions feel like?
Some women describe Braxton Hicks contractions as tightening in the abdomen that comes and goes. Many women say they feel like mild menstrual cramps. Unlike true labor, these contractions are usually not painful and do not happen at regular intervals. They do not get closer together, do not increase with walking, do not last longer as they go on, and do not feel stronger over time as they do when you are in true labor.
What do true labor contractions feel like?
True labor feels different for every woman. It may even feel different from one pregnancy to the next. Labor contractions cause discomfort or a dull ache in your back and/or lower abdomen, along with pressure in the pelvis. Some women may also feel pain in their sides and thighs. Some women describe contractions as strong menstrual cramps, while others describe them as strong waves that feel like diarrhea cramps.
How do I know when contractions indicate I am in true labor?
To figure out if the contractions you are feeling are the real thing and you're going into labor, ask yourself the following questions.
How often do the contractions happen?
Do they change with movement?
How strong are they?
Where do you feel the pain?
If you have signs of true labor, contact your health care provider immediately. If you're not sure, call your health care provider anyway. If you are having any of the following, you may be in true labor.