Pregnancy causes your body to go through many changes. Tissue upholding your uterus stretches, which has the ability to cause sharp, shooting pains on either side of your stomach that venture down your thigh, into your leg, according to Cleveland Clinic. These pains, commonly referred to as Braxton Hicks contractions or false labor pains, are irregular, infrequent contractions that cause the muscles in your uterus to contract during the fourth month of pregnancy.
Significance of Braxton Hicks Contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions can begin as early as the fourth month of pregnancy, up until the seventh month of pregnancy. The muscles in your uterus contract for about 30 to 60 seconds or as long as 2 minutes, according to the American Pregnancy Association. They are commonly described as uncomfortable sharp, shooting pains that are irregular in duration, unpredictable, non-rhythmic and gradually decrease in intensity.
Physical activity could cause Braxton Hicks contractions, according to the American Pregnancy Association. You might also experience them when the baby moves around frequently, you have a full bladder, someone touches your stomach, you are dehydrated, or after having sex. As your contractions become more intense around the time of delivery, the contractions are considered to be false labor.
Signs and Symptoms of Pre-Term Labor
Preterm labor is referred to as labor occurring prior to 37 weeks of gestation. Signs and symptoms include bleeding; menstrual-like cramps; leaking fluid from your vagina; flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; pressure in the vagina or pelvis; having more than four to six contractions in an hour; and regular pain or tightening in your lower abdomen or back, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Tips for Relieving Contractions
To relieve Braxton Hicks contractions, alter your position or activity until you are comfortable, abstain from sharp movements or turns, apply a heating pad to your abdomen or back, take a warm bath or shower, massage your abdomen or back and drink plenty of fluids.
If you are less than 36 weeks pregnant, have signs of premature labor and your pain is constant or severe and it is not being relieved by any of the recommended methods, call your health care provider immediately to rule out preterm labor.