Braxton Hicks contractions are practice contractions that prepare the muscles of the uterus to deliver a baby.
Isn't the body amazing? Well before your due date, the muscles in your uterus begin practicing for the delivery! These muscles have a lot to do on the big day. When it's time to deliver your baby, they will contract and relax, contract and relax to push the baby down the birth canal. This takes a lot of muscle power. And just like any major physical event that requires muscle power, the uterus needs to be prepared in advance. Your body automatically exercises the muscles of the uterus during the last trimester with Braxton Hicks contractions. These practice contractions feel like a sudden hardening or tightening and then a gradual relaxing of the uterus. Some women say the contractions feel as if an elastic band around the belly is being drawn tight and then relaxed. Braxton Hicks contractions aren't painful, they're just a little uncomfortable. As you get closer to your due date, these contractions might become more frequent and intense. They are usually felt earlier and more intensely by women who have had a previous pregnancy.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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