One of the most concerning and exciting parts of a pregnancy is when you start to experience contractions. However, contractions but not dilating can sometimes mean that labor is not right around the corner. While they do signify that labor is coming, sometimes your body doesn’t dilate when contractions are happening. This can be frustrating and annoying, but it’s often not a cause for concern.
Contractions can happen all throughout your pregnancy, and they don’t always mean that the baby is going to be coming soon. If you’ve been worrying about your contractions but not dilating, that usually means you have some time before you’re going to go into real labor. There are different stages of labor, and your body can be stuck in the first stage without dilating for a few weeks.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Throughout your pregnancy, you experience what is called Braxton Hicks contractions. These are practice contractions that will help your uterus prepare for labor when the time comes.
However, these contractions won’t make you dilate. If you’re experiencing contractions and not dilating, this is probably the cause of them.
One thing to know about Braxton Hicks contractions is that they are not regular contractions. You won’t be able to time them, and you shouldn’t be experiencing more than five in one hour.
Every woman will experience Braxton Hicks contractions during pregnancy, and they start earlier with each pregnancy. While a first time mom may only notice them in their third trimester, a second or third time mom may experience them as early as 16 weeks!
They are not a cause for concern and completely normal. It’s almost like your uterus is working out and getting ready for the huge workout that labor and delivery is.
Causes of Braxton Hicks
There are a lot of things that can cause Braxton Hicks contractions. Sometimes, they happen because your body is preparing for labor. However, that’s not the only time that they can happen. Certain things you do during pregnancy can cause them to get worse or to get better.
One of the most common reasons for Braxton Hicks contractions is dehydration.
It can be hard to get enough water while pregnant, and you need even more water than you did before you were pregnant. If you’re having a hard time drinking enough water, try adding some flavoring to your water to mix things up.
Another reason for Braxton Hicks is if you are exercising too hard. You may need to shorten your workouts or make them less intense. One of the best exercises while pregnant is walking, so instead of lifting weights or running, try going for a nice walk instead.
If you are experiencing Braxton Hicks while exercising, take a break and get some water to see if they will stop.
Other times, Braxton Hicks contractions occur when you’re in one position for too long. This can happen when you are sitting or standing up. If you are sitting when the Braxton Hicks happen, try lying down or standing up and walking around.
If they happen while you are standing, try to rest and sit down with your feet up.
Braxton Hicks contractions can be scary, but they don’t usually need a visit to the doctor. As long as you are not having regular and timed contractions that are getting worse, you can try drinking some water and seeing if they go away.
When to Start Timing Contractions
If you start noticing your contractions, you might want to time them. Braxton Hicks contractions that don’t cause you to dilate are often not painful, and they cannot be timed.
You should start timing contractions when you notice that there are more than five contractions in an hour long period. It’s also important to know that when true labor comes, the contractions will get longer, closer together, and more painful as the time comes.
Real contractions are often painful enough that you will not want to talk through them, and if you notice that, it’s time to see a doctor.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so if you notice something off with your contractions, call your doctor and see what they say.
As the end of the pregnancy nears, it can be exciting to pick apart each and every contraction. If you’re experiencing contractions toward the end of your pregnancy, it could be that labor is approaching. You will notice contractions before your body starts dilating, and every woman dilates differently. Some will stay at a 1 or 2 for weeks while others go from a 1 to a 10 in a few hours.
When your contractions are happening irregularly, they are probably Braxton Hicks and won’t cause dilation. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to put them in the comment section down below. I‘d love to hear your view on the topic!