Braxton Hicks

I've had some really intense cramps lately, like PMS times 10. They weren't necessarily painful, just extremely uncomfortable and a lot of pressure. Well, it turns out that they may be Braxton Hicks contractions!! How cool/weird/awesome is that!

Braxton Hicks (aka "false labor") is when the uterus is contracting as practice for labor. It's perfectly normal and expected at this stage of my pregnancy. Here are some facts from the What To Expect website:

Braxton Hicks Contractions — What They Are

Braxton Hicks contractions are like a dress rehearsal — your uterine muscles are flexing in preparation for the big job they'll have to do in the near future.

Braxton Hicks Contractions — What Causes Them

Your pregnancy hormones are hard at work, sending messages to your body to (very slowly) start the process of childbirth.

Braxton Hicks Contractions — What You Need to Know

Braxton Hicks contractions can begin anytime after week 20 of pregnancy. (You'll probably feel them earlier and more intensely if you've been pregnant before.) Braxton Hicks contractions begin as a painless tightening of the uterine muscles, usually lasting about 15 to 30 seconds, but sometimes as long as two minutes, and causing your abdomen to become very hard and strangely contorted (almost pointy). Once you get closer to your estimated due date, these contractions become more frequent and more intense.

Braxton Hicks Contractions — What You Can Do About Them

  • Try changing your position during a painful contraction — if you're sitting, stand up (and vice versa).
  • Use these contractions as a chance to practice your breathing and visualization techniques. (If your partner's around, make him practice, too.)
  • If your contractions are quite frequent (more than four in an hour) and/or you're in a lot of pain or see any kind of vaginal discharge, call your practitioner. 


  1. Braxton Hicks contractions are really fun in the middle of the night when you're trying to get some much needed sleep! When I had Emily, they were really intense towards the end of my pregnancy. Use them as practice for the real thing, although truth be told, the real thing is really in a league of its own.


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