Braxton Hicks Contractions
Pregnancy tends to come with a host of different discomforts, ranging from morning sickness, to bladder problems, to nosebleeds. As your pregnancy progresses, you may begin to notice a tightness in your uterus. This tightness is actually referred to as a Braxton Hicks contraction, and it is one of the most common pregnancy symptoms. Read on to find out more about Braxton Hicks contractions and how to tell them apart from the real signs of labor.
What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?
The majority of women experience frequent Braxton Hicks contractions during the different stages of pregnancy. Braxton Hicks contractions are actually a tightening in the muscles of the uterus. Your brain sends your body signals to prepare for labor by contracting the uterine muscles, resulting in these uncomfortable contractions. Usually lasting between 1 and 2 minutes, Braxton Hicks contractions can occur
throughout your pregnancy, strengthening in the last months before delivery.
Braxton Hicks contractions are named after the scientist who first discovered them in 1872. Thanks to him, we now know why women feel this strange tightening in their abdomens during pregnancy. The discovery of Braxton Hicks contractions has helped to clear up the mystery of false labor and the whole labor process.
Why do Braxton Hicks Contractions Occur?
The contractions that you experience throughout your pregnancy aren’t just there to annoy you – they actually do have a purpose. Braxton Hicks contractions seem to be a part of the stages of pregnancy development. It is thought that Braxton Hicks contractions help your body to prepare for actual labor. They are commonly called "practice contractions" as they help your uterus prepare for the contractions it will experience during labor. Without Braxton Hicks contractions, your labor contractions would be longer, more painful, and less effective at pushing your baby out. Braxton Hicks contractions felt later in pregnancy also help to soften the cervix.