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Early Contractions

Sometime during your second or third trimester, you might start to feel mild, sporadic contractions, especially when you are tired or dehydrated, or after sex. These normal contractions, called Braxton Hicks contractions or false labor, are your body's way of rehearsing for birth. Think of them as a kind of warm-up for true labor. Braxton Hicks contractions feel like a tightening of your abdomen, something like a sit-up. They are usually mild and painless. Other times it can be more painful. You might worry you are going into true labor, but these early contractions don't happen at regular intervals and they don't dilate your cervix.   

As you get closer to your delivery, Braxton Hicks contractions may intensify.

Call Doctor If:

  • You have any bleeding or fluid leaking from your vagina.
  • Contractions are regular, close, and last 30 to 90 seconds. This could be real labor, whether you are near your due date or not.

Step-by-Step Care:

  • Breathe through it.
  • Try emptying your bladder.
  • Change positions. Lie down if you’ve been standing. Move around if you’ve been sitting. Braxton Hicks contractions usually stop when you move around.
  • Drink some water. The contractions can be triggered by dehydration.
  • Take a warm bath.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on June 06, 2014

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