Congratulations on making it to 16 weeks pregnant! By now, you may have experienced some pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, fatigue, and cravings. But what about those twinges or contractions that seem to come out of nowhere? Are they normal or something to worry about? Let's explore Braxton Hicks contractions, their causes, and how to tell if you're experiencing them.
What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions are also known as "practice" contractions because they prepare your uterus for labor. They occur when the muscles in your uterus tighten and then relax. These non-labor contractions were named after John Braxton Hicks who first described them in 1872.
Unlike real labor contractions, which gradually become stronger over time, Braxton Hicks contractions tend to be irregular and don't increase in intensity. Their purpose is not to dilate the cervix or move the baby downwards but rather help promote blood flow through the placenta.
When Do Braxton Hicks Contractions Occur?
Braxton Hicks contraction can begin as early as six weeks into pregnancy but often go unnoticed until later on (around week 20). Most women experience them at some point during their pregnancy with varying levels of intensity and frequency.
These practice contraction tend to be more common later in pregnancy when labor is nearing. You might notice them more frequently after exercising or being active for extended periods; this often occurs towards evening hours too.
How Do I Know If I'm Having One?
It's essential first know that these false alarms do not cause pain while instead just a discomfort/tightening sensation around the lower abdomen area where uterine muscle is present.
During a contraction wave ,the belly will feel tight - similar to flexing a muscle. This sensation might be mild or intense, so it's important to stay aware of your body's reactions and listen closely for any signs that something might not feel right.
What Causes Braxton Hicks Contractions?
The exact cause of these contractions is unknown, but several factors may trigger them:
- Full bladder (oops go pee now)
- Sexual intercourse
- Exercise/ physical activity
- Abdominal touch like continuous poking or pushing
- Being in later stages of pregnancy
These triggers can cause the muscles in the uterus to contract and relax.
How Long Do They Last?
Braxton Hicks contractions usually last between 30 seconds and two minutes. They can occur intermittently during the day or night with no consistent frequency pattern;there are some rare cases where one could take over half an hour too..If your contractions are getting stronger, causing pain instead of just discomfort, lasting longer than two minutes at a time then you should contact medical personnel immediately as this could be indicative of preterm labor which requires attendance ASAP
Can You Stop Them From Happening?
Even if Braxton hicks contraction start earlier than expected its okay! However being chronically dehydrated can lead to their occurrence quite frequently.So here’s what you should do:-
- Hydrate regularly -ensure consumption of plenty water throughout . 2.Self care regimen including massages especially on abdominal area,mild activities. 3.It helps when shifting positions. 4.Practice relaxation exercises - breathing techniques , stretching , yoga poses etc.. 5.Limit caffeine & sugary foods(so hard!)
Note:It's essential always never neglect calls/messages from health professionals.Don't always assume things will work themselves out & keep assuming false pretenses.
When Should I Be Worried About My Contractions?
As mentioned earlier ,if these contractions are already taking up massive chunks of your time, then perhaps it might be an indicator to check with the doctor .Also if you feel something not right like - difficulty breathing. vision changes,dark fluid discharge from vagina (Spurting Mocha Lattes are totally normal) , or if they’re accompanied by stronger than normal low back pain this would require medical attention instantly.
How Are They Different From Labor Contractions?
Real labor contractions will heighten in intensity and frequency as time goes on, Braxton Hicks don't become more frequent nor do they get strong enough for concern
Time length of delivery is also a clear differentiating factor - Braxton hicks last around thirty seconds to two minutes while active labor which births baby's arrival could persist for hours Needless stress caused due overthinking self detection during pregnancy can drive one crazy,it is essential that we learn about our bodies;its signals but only through information gathered from reliable sources and professionals
Should I Call My Doctor?
You should call your health care provider/doctor/midwife if: -Your contractions increase in frequency beyond the norm. -They come with severe pain,constipation or blood disposal occurrence -In case water breaks earlier than anticipated
Informing yourself well ahead eliminates & prevents a lot of unnecessary confusion.
Braxton Hicks contraction can be confusing to identify initially since it seems so similar to labour contractions ;it isn’t comfortable dealing with mixed signals. But once armed&prepared its no longer intimidating , remember: there’s nothing wrong (or terrible) about experiencing them—something average! However It never hurts too much caution either.If concerned always remember, speaking honestly (&from reliable sources!),staying vigilant towards new occurences along this journey called motherhood alongside proper diet and exercise yields successful results! Happy pregnancy!
Stay hydrated ,Stay sane & keep laughing!