Braxton Hicks Contractions
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Braxton Hicks contractions are sporadic tightening of the uterine muscles. They are considered practice contractions and they help your body prepare for childbirth. Braxton Hicks contractions assist in toning the uterine muscle, promote blood flow to the placenta, and soften the cervix.
 When do they start?
Although they begin very early in pregnancy, most women do not detect them until late in the second trimester or early in the third trimester. Some women never detect them. They may occur throughout the pregnancy increasing as it gets closer to your due date.
 Signs and symptoms
The contractions may last from 30 seconds to as long as five minutes. They are not painful except for towards the end of pregnancy, when they are considered false labor. They should be irregular in their intensity and timing. Braxton Hicks contractions should be infrequent and should taper off, not increase in intensity or duration.
 Trigger factors
There are factors that may trigger Braxton Hicks contractions, they are:
If the contractions are making you really uncomfortable, try these techniques to lessen the discomfort of the contractions.
 How to distingush from labor
It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between Braxton Hicks contractions and real labor. There are things you can do to alleviate the contractions - real labor will not stop because of a change in activity. True labor pains will grow consistently longer, stronger and closer together. If you are unsure if the contractions are preterm labor, contact your doctor right away. If the contractions increase in intensity or are closer together, or if changing your activity does not cause them to taper off, call your doctor immediately.
 More Information
Read more about common discomforts during pregnancy: