- For the album Braxton Hicks by Jebediah see Braxton Hicks (album).
Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as false labour (British English, false labor in American English) or practice contractions. Braxton Hicks are sporadic uterine contractions that actually start at about 6 weeks, although one will not feel them that early. Most women start feeling them during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
Braxton Hicks contractions are a tightening of the uterine muscles
for one to two minutes and is thought to be an aid to the body in its preparation for birth
. Not all expectant mothers have these contractions. They are thought to be part of the process of effacement
, the thinning of the cervix
Braxton Hicks are named after the English
doctor who first described them. In 1872
, John Braxton Hicks
investigated the latter stages of pregnancy and noted that many women felt contractions without being near birth. This process was usually painless but caused women confusion as to whether or not they were going into actual labor. It has since been found that Braxton Hicks' contractions are much less noticeable during exercise, whereas real contractions are not.
- Dehydration can make muscles spasm, bringing on a contraction, and is thought to be a factor in extended Braxton Hicks contractions. Adequate hydration can alleviate Braxton Hicks contractions.
- Rhythmic breathing may alleviate the discomfort of Braxton Hicks contractions.
- Lie down on the left side can help ease the pain of contractions.
- A slight change in movement sometimes makes the contractions disappear.
- A full bladder can sometimes trigger Braxton Hicks, so urination may end the contractions.