Key Points

  • Contractions are the main work of labor. When people talk about labor pains or going into labor, it all revolves around contractions.
  • Contractions are when the uterus is pulling up on the cervix and working on thinning (effacement) and opening the cervix.
  • The uterus is designed in a way that keeps the baby super safe, and quite a bit of work means quite a bit of contractions.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions don't make any change to your cervix and they don't open your cervix and thin it. They are a tightening of the uterus muscle. They are more towards the top of the uterus and feel all over too (tightening sensation). Sometimes, people say that the BH contraction feels like the baby is balling up or a big turn.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions can start in the third trimester and are almost like your uterus is practicing. If you're experiencing a lot of those, make sure that you're staying hydrated. If concerned, call care providers.
  • Labor contractions feel more like underneath belly button. It can also be experienced in the back.