Braxton Hicks at 28 weeks is totally normal
Once you hit the third trimester, things often get more intense. You might be more tired, more achy, and oh yes—experiencing more contractions. This common type of non-labor contraction is referred to as “Braxton Hicks” (named after the British doctor who first described them in 1872) contractions. Braxton Hicks are basically your run-of-the-mill, practice or “warm-up” contractions. They often start late in the second trimester or early in the third, sometimes earlier if you’ve already given birth. Their job is to get your uterus ready for labor when it’s the real deal. So when you turn the corner into the third trimester and feel more Braxton Hicks at 28 weeks, it’s key to remember that these warm-up contractions are totally normal.
What do Braxton Hicks contractions feel like?
Non-labor contractions often feel like a short hardening or tightening of the uterus. Some people say they feel like low pressure or extremely mild menstrual cramps. They might be intermittent, or you might feel them regularly for a few minutes or even a few hours. The most important thing to know about Braxton Hicks, especially if you’re early in your third trimester, is that they don’t lead to labor. Braxton Hicks contractions don’t dilate the cervix or cause the birth of the baby (although some people do say that they can help with softening of the cervix closer to term).
BRAXTON HICKS are “warm-UP” conTractions.
They’re Totally NOrmal.
What causes Braxton Hicks contractions?
Dehydration and exhaustion can bring on Braxton Hicks. They’re way more common at night, especially if you’ve had a long or taxing day. However, you don’t have to be overtired or under-hydrated to feel that telltale tightening in the belly—just being pregnant is basically a cause of Braxton Hicks! f you start feeling Braxton Hicks at 28 weeks, chances are you’ll be having them in some form or another for the rest of your third trimester, until you give birth.
Help! I’m experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions!
Although they are normal, they can certainly be distracting and uncomfortable. If you’d like to “relieve” your Braxton Hicks, one of the best ways is to relax. Of course, it is often easier said than done when you’re pregnant but soaking in a long hot bath, lying on the couch with a cup of tea, or vegging out in front of a movie are all good ways to calm things down. Any activity that chills you out should help. Hydration is also key—drink several large glasses of water and those contractions will likely slow down quite a bit. Heat, in the form of a heating pad or hot water bottle applied to the back can be comforting as well. Changing your position or going for a slow walk are also good ways to lessen practice contractions.
If you’re concerned that your warm-up contractions are coming faster or more often than feels comfortable for you, talk to your provider about them, either at a routine appointment or by calling the triage line at your birth place. False alarms happen to the best of us but it’s best to avoid rushing off to Labor & Delivery if you can.
One of the best ways to Relieve Braxton Hicks is to Relax.
When to Go the Delivery Room
It can be hard to know when labor is actually starting, often more so for first-time parents. But chances are, you’re not going into labor at 28 weeks. If you have Braxton Hicks, they might get more frequent or stronger as your pregnancy progresses, but they still won’t lead to labor. Labor contractions come at regular intervals, they progress in intensity, and they get closer together as times goes on. Most often, Braxton Hicks contractions don’t lead to labor—because they are sporadic, mild, and often stop with relaxation or a position change.
Read more about the signs of labor in this downloadable Tip Sheet from Lamaze Childbirth Educators:
lamaze Tip Sheet: Recognizing The Signs of LaboR.
Braxton Hicks or labor? Timing contractions is key.
Need help determining the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and the “real thing,” to avoid stress and needless trips to the hospital?
This is where a contraction timer comes in.
Learn all about how to accurately time and track contractions in this next article: