Braxton Hicks vs Labor: When to Head to the Hospital!

Hey there, mom-to-be! As your due date approaches, your body might start giving you some signs that could make you wonder, “Is this it? Is it labor or just Braxton Hicks?” Trying to decipher between the two can be nerve wracking. Don’t worry; it’s a common question! Let’s dive into understanding the distinction of Braxton Hicks vs labor signs.

braxton hicks vs labor

What is Braxton Hicks?

First off, what are Braxton Hicks contractions? These are often referred to as “practice contractions.” They’re your body’s way of preparing for the big day. They usually start showing up in the second trimester but become more noticeable in the third trimester.

One of the biggest differences in Braxton Hicks vs labor is that Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular and typically painless. They might feel like your belly tightening or hardening for a brief moment. Sometimes they’re so mild that you might not even notice them. They can occur after physical activity, dehydration, or even when your bladder is full. Changing positions or resting often helps ease them.

braxton hicks vs labor

Labor Contractions

Now, let’s talk about labor contractions. These are the real deal. Labor contractions are regular, increasingly intense, and usually painful. They follow a pattern, getting closer together as time passes. You might notice them starting in your lower back and moving towards the front, wrapping around your abdomen. Unlike Braxton Hicks, they won’t go away if you change positions or rest.

One key difference between Braxton Hicks vs labor is that true labor contractions won’t stop, regardless of what you do. They’ll persist and become more intense as time goes on. Timing your contractions can help you distinguish between labor and false alarms. When they start occurring at regular intervals, around 5 minutes apart or less, it might be a sign that labor has begun.

braxton hicks vs labor

A Refresh of Braxton Hicks vs Labor Signs

It’s important to remember that every woman’s experience is unique. While some may easily differentiate between the two, others might find it a bit trickier. If you’re ever unsure, it’s perfectly okay to contact your healthcare provider. They’re there to support and guide you through this journey.

Here are a few tips to help you distinguish between labor and Braxton Hicks contractions:

  1. Timing: Keep track of the frequency and duration of contractions. True labor contractions become more regular and closer together over time.
  2. Intensity: Labor contractions are more intense and progressively get stronger. They might start mild and build up in intensity.
  3. Location: Notice where you feel the contractions. True labor contractions often start in the lower back and move towards the front, while Braxton Hicks are more generalized around the belly.
  4. Response to activity: Changing positions or resting can often alleviate Braxton Hicks, but true labor contractions persist regardless of what you do.
  5. Other signs: Look out for additional signs like a bloody show, water breaking, or a change in vaginal discharge. These could indicate the onset of labor.

Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. If you’re ever uncertain or if something feels off, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider. Trust your instincts, mama—you’ve got this!

braxton hicks vs labor

Final Thoughts

Braxton Hicks vs labor pains can be a stressful experience to have to navigate. Not only is ever mama different, but every pregnancy is different – child to child. Make sure you pay attention to the level of pain, frequency, and have your doctor on speed dial ready to help!

Since you’re looking into signs of labor, have you scheduled your maternity photo shoot yet? Reach out for a quick consultation and I’ll get you on my books for the new year!

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