Braxton Hicks Contractions are a normal part of pregnancy and can happen as early as your second trimester but are more likely to happen in your third. But what are they and why do they happen?

What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?

Named for the Doctor who first described them in 1872 and they are also known as false labor or practice contractions. These contractions are irregular in intensity, infrequent and last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. These contractions will taper off eventually and though they may be strong at times the intensity will not increase or be sustained. I remember there were times I'd feel contractions all night long. I'd finally doze off only to find out in the morning that they had disappeared. 

What Causes Them?

Most medical professionals believe that Braxton Hicks Contractions are a way for the body to tone the uterus in preparation for labor, hence coining them "practice contractions."

What Can Trigger Them?

Picture from the movie Father of the Bride

Sometimes Braxton Hicks happen without any known trigger - the uterus is simply practicing. But there are a few triggers:

* When Mother and Baby are very active

* Orgasm - this is a type of contraction all by itself after all

* Dehydration - be sure you're getting plenty of fluids

* An Exam or when someone touches or puts pressure on your belly


What Alleviates Them? 

If you know what you're experiencing are Braxton Hicks Contractions there are a few things you can do to alleviate the discomfort. If this doesn't help. Call your Doctor it just might be the real deal!

* Rest or change positions - if you or baby have been really active take a rest break

* Drink water - you may be dehydrated and not realize it

As with all things if you have concerns contact your Doctor. No one knows your circumstances better than you and your care giver. 


Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer and mother of three. If you liked this posting please follow her on Twitter @writerbonnie or like her on Facebook at for more great info on Raising Kids.