Braxton Hicks Contractions

Otherwise referred to as "practice" contractions normally starting sometime after the 20th week of pregnancy and is characterized by "bnuching up" and "stiffening" of the uterus.

The uterus is actually trying to "practice" for the big day, flexing its muscles and getting ready for the baby's big push ahead.

These contractions are painless earlier in pregnancy and may start with the tightening of the uterus from the top moving downwards before relaxing. It can last from fifteen to 30 seconds but may last as long as two minutes or more.

As pregnancy progresses these contractions may become frequent and even painful but should not be mistaken for actual labor.

Well, starting this week, I've been having more frequent and more painful contractions and I swear they almost feel strong enough for me to call 911 and hightail it to the maternity ward. But my doctor did reassure me that as long as these contractions are no more than four times an hour and is not progressing in the degree of painfulness it's not yet the real thing.

And you always thought only the actual labor and delivery would be painful. Ugh.