Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as practice contractions, can cause discomfort for pregnant women. These contractions mimic real contractions and can cause confusion for first-time moms. In this article, we will explore why we get Braxton Hicks contractions.
What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions are mild contractions that happen during pregnancy. They are named after an English physician, John Braxton Hicks, who first described them in 1872. These contractions are different from real contractions in that they are sporadic and irregular. They do not occur at regular intervals, and they do not increase in intensity. Braxton Hicks contractions can start as early as the second trimester, but they are more common in the third trimester.
Why do we get Braxton Hicks contractions?
The exact cause of Braxton Hicks contractions is unknown. However, some theories suggest that they are a way for the body to prepare for labor. During pregnancy, the uterus gets bigger to accommodate the growing fetus. As the uterus stretches, it can cause the muscles to contract. Braxton Hicks contractions may be a way for the body to exercise these muscles to prepare for labor.
Another theory suggests that Braxton Hicks contractions are caused by an increase in oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes uterine contractions, and it is responsible for initiating labor. During pregnancy, oxytocin levels increase, which can cause Braxton Hicks contractions.
Can Braxton Hicks contractions be harmful?
Braxton Hicks contractions are typically harmless and do not pose any risk to the mother or baby. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately:
– Contractions that become more frequent and intense
– Contractions that are painful
– Contractions that last longer than usual
– Vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage
– Decreased fetal movement
If you are unsure whether you are experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions or real contractions, it is always best to contact your healthcare provider.
How to alleviate Braxton Hicks contractions?
There are several ways to alleviate Braxton Hicks contractions. Here are some tips:
– Change your position: Changing your position can sometimes reduce the frequency and intensity of contractions. For example, if you are lying down, try sitting up or standing.
– Drink water: Dehydration can cause muscle contractions, so make sure you are staying hydrated.
– Take a warm bath: A warm bath can help relax your muscles and reduce contractions.
– Practice relaxation techniques: Breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation can help reduce stress and alleviate contractions.
Braxton Hicks contractions are a normal part of pregnancy, and they are typically harmless. They are a way for the body to prepare for labor. If you experience any concerning symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Remember to practice self-care and relaxation techniques to alleviate discomfort from Braxton Hicks contractions.