What are Braxton Hicks Contractions? And what do they feel like?

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What’s the difference between Braxton Hicks and labor contractions?

Let’s start with a quick explanation of contractions.

During labor, the top of your uterus (made up of muscle) contracts to push the baby down to get ready for birth.


What are Braxton Hicks contractions?

Braxton Hicks are real, practice contractions. They’re just not a contraction that is starting actual labor. 

How do you know if they’re Braxton Hicks or the real deal? Braxton Hicks are:

  • intermittent

  • inconsistent, and

  • usually go away with rest and hydration

Labor contractions don't go away and begin to increase in:

  • frequency

  • length

  • strength.

What do contractions feel like?

• You may feel cramping, tightening, pressure

• You may feel from your back around to the front of your body

• You might feel and/or notice your abdomen harden during contraction

Contractions occur in a pattern - typically like a wave. There’s usually a clear beginning, increase in pressure until the peak, and then a fading. In the period between contractions, most women feel no pain or pressure at all.

Some women don’t even know they’re having contractions, while other women feel significant pressure and/or pain. Talk about variations of normal!

Be sure to check out my post on ‘5 Ways to Manage Your Contractions at Home.’