As you get closer to birthing your twins, it’s time to make sure that you know how to tell false and true labor apart.
False labor pains, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions, are common during the second and third trimesters and can sometimes lead expecting moms to think that they’re already in labor. Because twins are at greater risk of being born preterm than singletons, you should know what Braxton Hicks with twins feels like as opposed to actual labor.
Read on for the differences between Braxton Hicks contractions and the real thing.
What are Braxton Hicks?
Braxton Hicks contractions are your body’s way of preparing for real labor. When you have them, it doesn’t mean that you’re about to give birth. Think of them as fire drills.
As you approach your due date, your uterus starts practicing for labor. Braxton Hicks contractions mimic the movement of your uterus during labor, but they don’t open the cervix or get you any closer to birthing your babies, as true contractions would do.
According to WebMD, Braxton Hicks contractions are usually felt during the third trimester. However, some moms begin to experience them sometime in the second trimester. Braxton Hicks are perfectly normal and usually aren’t painful — at least not like true contractions.
Not all pregnant moms will experience Braxton Hicks contractions. But those who have felt them say that they:
- Feel like a tightening of the uterus or like mild menstrual cramps
- Don’t produce the kind of pain that has you doubling over
- Usually last between 30 seconds to two minutes
- Don’t come at regular intervals
- Don’t become longer or more painful over time
- Are relieved by movement or changes in position
- Are stronger if you’ve been pregnant before
In case you’re wondering why the name for false labor pains sounds strangely like a country music band, you should know that they were actually named after the doctor who first described them.
John Braxton Hicks, an English doctor from the 19th century, was the first to note that expectant moms would sometimes feel contractions in the later stages of pregnancy but would not get any closer to birth.
Are Braxton Hicks contractions with twins normal?
Moms of twins or multiples are more prone to going into labor early than moms of singletons. More accurately, the March of Dimes says that you’re six times more likely to give birth early if you’re having twins than if you’re having just one baby.
In fact, the more babies there are in your belly, the higher the chances are for an early birth. More than 90% of all triplets are born prematurely. Meanwhile, almost all quads and higher-order multiples are born preterm.
This means that if you’re having twins or multiples, you need to be aware of the differences between Braxton Hicks contractions and real contractions, along with the other signs of actual labor. Knowing what’s going on in your body will enable you to get medical attention when you need it.
You’re just as likely to experience Braxton Hicks contractions if you’re carrying twins or multiples than if you’re carrying just one baby. This is a normal part of any pregnancy.
However, if the Braxton Hicks contractions are accompanied by the following symptoms, you should call your doctor or head straight to the hospital.
- A backache
- Persistent pelvic pressure
- Cramping that increases in strength
- More than four contractions in the span of an hour
Braxton Hicks vs. actual contractions
Not all women have the same experience of false labor pains or Braxton Hicks contractions. Some never have them while others experience them multiple times a day. Here are some signs that your uterus is just doing a test run and that it’s not yet time to meet your babies.
Braxton Hicks contractions:
- Are more uncomfortable than painful
- Can come on suddenly and be gone just as quickly
- Don’t have a rhythm or a regular pattern
- Don’t become more painful as time goes on
- Don’t become longer in duration
- Are stronger after intercourse or intense physical activity
- Can be brought about by dehydration
- Can occur at any time, especially early in the third trimester, but become more intense as you get closer to your due date
And here are some signs that you’re not just having false labor pains. If you experience the following, it’s time to grab your hospital bag and go.
Real labor pains
- Are downright painful
- Follow a regular pattern or have a crescendo, meaning they start to become stronger or come closer together as time goes on
- Are accompanied by pelvic pain or pressure, abdominal cramps, or back pain
- Are not eased by a change in position, drinking a big glass of water, walking around, or putting your feet up
- May be accompanied by vaginal discharge
- Occur close to your due date
If you suspect that you’re in labor or if your contractions come every five minutes and last at least a minute each time, call your doctor or midwife. If your water breaks head to the hospital at once. Try not to panic.
How to ease Braxton Hicks with twins
Now that you know how to tell false and real labor pains apart, let’s focus on Braxton Hicks contractions and how to deal with them. If you’re like most moms, you’ll be experiencing these false contractions quite a bit in the second and third trimesters. Here’s how you can help alleviate the pain.
- Change your position. If you’re sitting, get up and take a walk. If you’re standing, sit or lie down.
- Lie down on your left side.
- Get a massage.
- Take a warm bath.
- Drink some water.
- Empty your bladder. (A full one can trigger Braxton Hicks contractions.)
- Practice rhythmic breathing.
It’s important for all moms, especially those of twins and multiples, to be familiar with the signs of real labor. If you’re looking for more information on Braxton Hicks with twins, how to tell if you’re in labor, or the different stages of childbirth, leave us a message or visit our forums section.