Ways to Identify Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions, often referred to as “false labor,” are relatively painless, irregular, and infrequent contractions that typically begin around week six of pregnancy and continue until the weeks leading up to delivery. They are your body’s way of practicing and preparing for true labor.

How do Braxton Hicks Contractions feel like?


  • Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular and do not occur at consistent intervals.
  • True labor contractions occur at regular intervals, becoming closer and stronger over time.


  • Braxton Hicks contractions may cease with physical activity or changes in position.
  • True labor contractions are unaffected by physical movement.


  • Braxton Hicks contractions are usually mild and may weaken over time.
  • True labor contractions consistently intensify.


  • Contractions are typically felt in the front of the abdomen or pelvis.
  • True labor contractions are more intense and may begin in the lower back before spreading to the abdomen.


  • Braxton Hicks contractions are brief and may disappear entirely.
  • True labor contractions are persistent and become longer-lasting.

Effect on cervix:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions do not affect the cervix.
  • True labor contractions cause the cervix to dilate.

Causes of Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • These contractions may occur spontaneously or be triggered by factors such as strenuous activity, dehydration, sexual intercourse, someone touching the mother’s belly, or a full bladder.

Signs of Labor:

  • Lower back pain, abdominal pain, or pelvic pressure
  • Loose stools
  • Brown-tinged mucous or watery discharge
  • Increased urination

Effects on baby:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions do not harm the baby unless they progress into preterm labor. Some medical professionals believe these contractions tone the uterus and improve blood flow to the placenta, benefiting the baby.

To Ease Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • Change positions, rest, or take a walk
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water or herbal tea
  • Practice relaxation exercises
  • Eat a snack
  • Take a warm bath

When to call the doctor:

  • If contractions occur before 37 weeks and increase in frequency or intensity
  • If there is an increase in vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, or spotting
  • If experiencing increasing low back pain, pelvic pressure, or more than four contractions per hour
  • If there are signs of menstrual-like cramping or abdominal pain

If contractions become longer, stronger, or more frequent, contact your midwife or doctor as labor may be starting. They will advise you on the next steps to take.