Braxton Hicks contractions
For those of us lucky enough to get acquainted with good ‘ol Braxton Hicks contractions nice and early in our pregnancy, we may notice that it feels like we get these pesky Braxton Hicks all day. Every. Damn. Day.
Congratulations, you are totally normal! Whether you feel them or not, these non-labor inducing contractions can start as early as the second trimester. They often feel like a general tightening in your abdomen although everyone experiences them a bit differently. The thinking is that Braxton Hicks are ”warm-up” contractions. Your uterus is a muscle, just like your bicep (but bigger and stronger!) and like any other muscle in training mode, it needs to get ready for the big day. How does it get ready? You guessed it: by contracting. So yes, Braxton Hicks all day = totally normal.
Often a woman experiencing Braxton Hicks all day is told she has an “irritable uterus” or “uterine irritability”. Despite the silly name, this non-medical classification is often nothing to worry about. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that women with loads of Braxton Hicks or irritable uterus are not more at risk for preterm labor.
What might cause me to experience Braxton Hicks all day?
A few things can increase the number of Braxton Hicks contractions in your day.
On your feet for a long time? Yup, that’ll do it. A bit dehydrated? That could do it too. Over-hydrated and have to pee really bad? You guessed it, full bladder can also cause an increase contractions. Fun!
So sit down, relax, empty your bladder and fill it back up with a large glass of water. Now see if they go away. Phew.
While, yes, Braxton Hicks contractions are totally normal, any changes from your regular daily pattern might indicate something to discuss with your care team.
How do I know my “regular daily pattern”?
We’re glad you asked! Timing contractions will help you see your contraction pattern and how it changes. Even easier, a smart pregnancy tracker, like Bloomlife, will do all the contraction tracking for you and you’ll be able to view your trends over time and see when things seem a bit different.
How do I know that these are Braxton Hicks contractions and not labor contractions?
Some additional signs typically come along with labor but if you key in on contractions, focus on a few things: contraction pattern and timing. Non-labor contractions usually take on an irregular pattern while labor contractions become regular (evenly spaced) and get closer together. Other things to look for with contractions include whether the intensity is increasing and whether contractions go away or strengthen when you change position or move around.
As always, trust your body and your instinct. If something feels a bit off, different, or worrisome, contact your care team. They are there to help!