Giving birth

How to relieve Braxton-Hicks contractions

Are you experiencing painful "practice" contractions? Read on for helpful tips on easing Braxton-Hicks contractions at home.

According to Deanna Stirling, a public health nurse with the Middlesex-London Health Unit in London, Ont., “practice”contractions (which, in contrast to the real deal, don’t dilate your cervix) may be eased by these measures:

1. Apply warmth
Often, pre-labour contractions will disappear if you take a warm bath or cuddle up with a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel.

2. Take a break
Braxton-Hicks can signal you’re doing too much; rest may offer relief.

3. Drink some water
Mild dehydration can trigger cramping, so drink up. (But don’t forget to pee. A full bladder can irritate the uterus, thereby increasing the intensity of Braxton-Hicks.)

4. Practice deep breathing
Braxton-Hicks provide a perfect opportunity to practise your strategies for coping with labour.

And how do you know if those cramps are Braxton-Hicks or bona fide labour? “With true labour, things like a warm bath or rest won’t change the contractions—they’ll just get stronger,” Stirling says. If you’re still uncertain, check with your caregiver.

Read more:
4 tips to manage labour and delivery fears
Guide to labour-pain management
Choosing a midwife or a doctor

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