What are Braxton Hicks Contractions? - PIH Health - Whittier, CA

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Published on August 16, 2019

What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?

Photo of pregnant womanPhoto of pregnant womanBraxton Hicks contractions, also known as practice contractions or false labor pains, were first described in 1872 by an English doctor named John Braxton Hicks. 

Braxton Hicks contractions are most commonly felt in the third trimester of a woman’s pregnancy, but can be experienced in the second trimester as well. The muscles in the uterus normally tighten for 30 to 60 seconds, but can last as long as two minutes. According to Leslie Gonzalez MD, a PIH Health Physicians OB/GYN, you can consider Braxton Hicks as an opportunity to practice breathing techniques in preparation for the “real thing”. 

Unlike true labor, Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • Are not usually very painful. Uncomfortable is a better description.
  • Are not felt at regular intervals.
  • Don’t get closer together or longer as they go on.
  • Don’t get stronger over time.
  • May subside with change in position or with activity.
  • Eventually taper off and disappear.

The following things can trigger Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • When mother or baby are very active.
  • If someone touches the mother’s belly.
  • When the bladder is full.
  • After sex.
  • Dehydration.

How to Alleviate Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • Move around or change positions.
  • Take a warm (not hot) bath for 30 minutes or less.
  • Because contractions may be brought on by dehydration, drink a couple of glasses of water

If these steps don’t work, you should contact your doctor. If you are looking for an OB/GYN, Dr. Gonzalez practices at the Brookshire Medical Office Building in Downey, Ca. View her video on her physician profile or call 562.904.5151.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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