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Braxton Hicks contractions definition and facts
- Braxton-Hicks contractions have been referred to as "false labor" and are contractions of the uterus that occur predominantly in the third trimester of pregnancy.
- Braxton-Hicks contractions are typically less painful than those of true labor are.
- Unlike true labor, Braxton-Hicks contractions are unpredictable, do not occur at regular intervals, and do not become more intense over time.
- Dehydration and physical activity may trigger Braxton-Hicks contractions.
- Changing positions may alleviate uncomfortable Braxton-Hicks contractions.
What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
Braxton-Hicks contractions are contractions of the uterus that occur during the third trimester of pregnancy. They are perfectly normal and have been said to represent contractions that occur as the uterus is preparing to give birth. In some women, they occur as early as the second trimester. Sometimes, Braxton-Hicks contractions have been referred to as "false labor."
In contrast to the contractions of true labor, Braxton-Hicks contractions do not occur at regular intervals, do not get stronger over time, and do not last longer over time. They do not occur at predictable intervals, and they may disappear altogether for a time. They tend to become more frequent toward the end of pregnancy.
Common events can sometimes trigger Braxton-Hicks contractions, for example:
- Increased activity of mother or baby
- Touching of the maternal abdomen
- Sexual intercourse
- Distended maternal bladder
Braxton-Hicks contractions are named after an English doctor, John Braxton Hicks, who first described them in 1872.
What do Braxton Hicks contractions feel like?
Braxton-Hicks contractions are not typically as painful as those of true labor contractions may be. Some women describe them as a tightening sensation across the lower abdomen. They may feel similar to menstrual cramps in some women. The abdomen may become firm to the touch. They do not occur at regular intervals.
Which home remedies help relieve Braxton Hicks contraction uncomfortableness and pain?
There are measures that can be taken to bring about relief if Braxton-Hicks contractions are uncomfortable:
- Changing positions, taking a walk, or resting if you have been active;
- Drinking a glass of water, or a cup of herbal tea;
- Performing relaxation exercises, deep breathing, or mental relaxation;
- Eating something;
- Bathing in warm bath for up to 30 minutes;
When should I call my doctor about Braxton Hicks contractions?
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Braxton Hicks vs. True Labor Contractions
Many pregnant women often mistake Braxton Hicks contractions (false labor) for real labor contractions, especially if is your first pregnancy. Braxton Hicks contractions occur in third trimester of pregnancy, however, sometimes can occur in the second trimester. True labor contractions begin around your due date (unless your baby is preterm, in which you will be in preterm labor). So how can you tell the difference? Here are a few similarities and differences between Braxton Hicks contractions and True or real labor contractions.
Braxton Hicks contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions tend to become more frequent toward the end of pregnancy, and are not as painful as real labor contractions; do not occur in regular intervals; do not become longer over time; and may disappear for a period of time and then return.
Frequently one of the early symptoms and signs of true labor is when the contractions begin to occur less than 10 minutes apart.
Real labor contractions occur at regular intervals that become progressively shorter; more painful as labor progresses; are described as a tightening, pounding, or stabbing pain; may feel similar to menstrual cramps; and sometimes Braxton Hicks contractions can be triggered by dehydration, sexual intercourse, increased activity of the mother or baby, touching of the pregnant woman's abdomen, or a distended bladder.
Natural and home remedies to soothe and provide comfort for Braxton Hicks contractions include relaxation exercises like deep breathing or mental relaxation; change positions or take a walk if you have been active and rest; drink a glass of herbal tea or water; eat; or soak in a warm bath for 30 minutes (or less).
Preterm labor signs and symptomsWhen you have reached 37 weeks, and the contractions are more painful and are increasing in frequency you will have abdominal pain or menstrual-like cramping, an increase in pelvic pressure or back pain, and the contractions are more than four contractions an hour.
Doula vs. Midwife
A midwife and doula are not the same thing. A doula's job is to provide non-medical, emotional, and personal support to a woman throughout her pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum experience. A certified nurse midwife is a medical health care professional that manages the overall general health of the mother and baby; for example, performs exams, orders laboratory tests, and procedures, and performs fetal monitoring from the pregnant woman's first prenatal visit to post-partum and aftercare. A midwife can deliver the baby, whereas a doula cannot.
A midwife usually tries to minimize the use of unnecessary technological interventions. A midwife cannot perform C-sections, use vacuums or forceps during labor and delivery. Midwives generally work with an Obstetrician (a doctor that specializes in pregnancy, birth, and women's reproductive health) when medical intervention by a specialist is necessary.
A doula does not require a medical degree, but requires certification in some states. Certification for nurse-midwife in the US requires a certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Entrance into the AMCB program requires a Bachelor's Degree and a licensed RN degree. AMBC certification is a Master's Degree program.
Government of the District of Columbia. "Municipal Regulations for Nurse-Midwives."
Oregon Health Authority.gov. "Utilizing Doulas to Improve Birth Outcomes for Underdeserved Women in Oregon." Feb 22, 2012.
American College of Nurse-Midwives. "Become a Midwife."
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Labor and Delivery
Early and later symptoms and signs of labor and delivery are unique to each woman. Early signs of labor are "lightening” and passing the mucous plug.
Later symptoms and signs that labor that labor is are the woman’s water breaking, and when contractions begin.
There are three stages of labor, stage 1 is the longest and occurs when the cervix begins to thin and dilate. During stage 2 of labor the baby passes through the birth canal and remains there until delivery, and stage 3, is when the baby is delivered.
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Pregnancy can bring challenges like
- weight gain,
- stretch marks,
- varicose veins,
- problems sleeping, and
- wondering if it is safe to have sex while pregnant.
Learn how to manage and move through these challenges during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Drug Dangers
Taking prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs or supplements should be discussed with your doctor. There are some medications that have been found to cause no problems in pregnancy, however, medications such as Accutane for acne, should never be taken during pregnancy.
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Pregnancy Planning (Preparing for Pregnancy)
Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Symptoms Am I PregnantPregnancy symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and not all women experience the same symptoms. When women do experience pregnancy symptoms they may include symptoms include missed menstrual period, mood changes, headaches, lower back pain, fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and heartburn. Signs and symptoms in late pregnancy include leg swelling and shortness of breath. Options for relief of pregnancy symptoms include exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes.
Pregnancy: Bleeding During the First TrimesterBleeding during pregnancy is never normal. Causes of bleeding during the first trimester of a pregnancy may be caused by implantation bleeding, ectopic or tubal pregnancy, subchorionic hemorrhaging, infections, and miscarriage. Bleeding during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can be caused by a variety of factors.
Pregnancy: Pain Relief Options for Birth
Women experience and tolerate pain differently. For some pregnant women, focused breathing is all they need to get through labor and childbirth; but for others, numbing of the pain is desired. There are a number of different medications a woman can take during labor and childbirth. It is important for you to learn what pain relief options are available. Please discuss the options with your health care provider well before your "birth day" so that when you are in labor you understand the choices.
A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep needs vary from individual to individual and change throughout your life. The National Institutes of Health recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for older, school-aged children, teens, and most average adults; 10-12 for preschool-aged children; and 16-18 hours for newborns. There are two stages of sleep; 1) REM sleep (rapid-eye movement), and 2) NREM sleep (non-rapid-eye movement). The side effects of lack of sleep or insomnia include:
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Concentration or memory problems
Lack of sleep and insomnia can be caused by medical conditions or diseases, medications, stress, or pain. The treatment for lack of sleep and insomnia depends upon the cause.
Pregnant? Don't Eat ThisDo you know which common foods may be risky during pregnancy? Learn which foods to avoid, while pregnant, such as queso dip, lunch meat, coffee and more.