You're nearing your due date, getting those last minute lists crossed off and you're excited to meet your baby! Unfortunately you've also been experiencing an all to common problem that many pregnant parents experience during the last leg of pregnancy: Braxton Hicks contractions (false labour). If this isn't your first baby, you already know what to expect and may have started noticing them even earlier this time around.
If this is your first baby, here's a little run down on what these Braxton Hicks contractions are all about. They are caused by the tightening of the uterus as it readies itself for birth. They usually appear three months before your due date and intensify in frequency until the day you go into labour. However, these "practice contractions" can also be experienced much earlier on in pregnancy. Some people don't notice them at all, while others get them fairly regularly.
While it's normal to experience Braxton Hicks contractions at any point during your pregnancy, they tend to first be noticeable in your second trimester as your body releases hormones to prepare for labor. That's why they are also sometimes called "practice contractions". If these contractions become too frequent or painful, you should notify your care provider, but if they're infrequent and not painful, there's no need to worry.
The best way to cope with Braxton Hicks contractions in the third trimester is to get a good nights sleep. Along with creating a good sleep routine, here are a few other ideas that might help ease these false contractions:
- Stay hydrated. Slight dehydration can increase cramping and intensify Braxton Hicks. If you're like myself, and struggle to keep your water intake up, add some frozen fruit or cucumber to the water. A little sweet flavour goes a long way.
- Put your feet up. If you've been doing a lot of errands, or on your feet all day, you might find an increase in these pesky false contractions. Sometimes it's your body's way of saying you need a little break.
- Take a walk. On the other hand, a change of pace can help ease false contractions. If you can get out of the house for a few minutes, taking a gentle stroll around the block can do wonders. The fresh air and change of scenery will also help promote a better nights rest.
- Have a warm (not hot) bath of shower. Heat can help relax muscles, and hydrotherapy is great for just about everything. If you don't have time for a relaxing bath lay down with a heat pack or hot water bottle.
- Go pee. Having a full bladder can irritate your uterus, increasing Braxton Hicks.
- Massage. What more do I need to say, getting a relaxing massage can help sort out many concerns!
Remember you are not alone in going through this. Braxton Hicks or false labour is your body's way of preparing for baby to arrive. So there is a purpose to the discomfort. If anything, it'll give you a chance to practice your breathing ;)
Have you been experiencing Braxton Hicks yet? Let me know any of your tips or tricks in the comments. I'd love to hear how you handle them!