Braxton Hicks vs. Labor Contractions: How to Tell the DifferenceMeredith Carroll
I wrote last week about how I was, um, surprised to learn that much of what I thought was my baby kicking turned out to be contractions. Whoops.
I’m 36 weeks pregnant today and all of a sudden started wondering how I’ll know when Braxton Hicks contractions become labor contractions.
Here’s what I learned:
Braxton Hicks contractions start at around six weeks into a pregnancy, although you won’t start feeling them until you’re halfway through. The further along you are, the more painless and irregular they will remain — they’ll become more frequent as you get closer to your due date. However, as long as you’re not having more than four contractions an hour and you’re not yet 37 weeks pregnant, it’s not a big deal (if they’re coming more often and sooner, call your caregiver).
Once you’re within a couple of weeks from your due date, the contractions will get more intense and frequent, and may be even more painful. Still, you’re not necessarily in labor. Labor will occur when the contractions are consistent, strong, long and close together.
If you’re experiencing Braxton Hicks and are uncomfortable, trying changing your position or walk around. You can also try a warm bath, drinking some water or deep, slow breathing.
If you’re less than 37 weeks along and are experiencing cramping, vaginal bleeding or spotting, watery vaginal discharge, increased pelvic pressure or new low back pain, call your caregiver.
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