Irritable Uterus vs. Braxton Hicks

pregnant woman in pain

Irritable uterus is a term used by doctors to describe painful contractions that do not cause changes in the cervix, like those seen during labor. These contractions can be frighteningly similar to the real deal, only without the regularity of true labor. Any time you experience painful contractions, you should contact your physician right away. They will examine your cervix to determine if the cervix has begun to dilate or efface, and they will monitor the contractions to determine their strength and regularity. 

Irritable uterus can be frighteningly similar to true labor.

Painful contractions can many times be attributed to low fluid levels, either through simple dehydration or lowered levels of amniotic fluid. If it is determined that you are experiencing low levels of amniotic fluid, your doctor will need to monitor you carefully and will make recommendations to keep your pregnancy healthy and on track. But in most cases of dehydration, rest and plenty of extra fluid intake should help to alleviate your discomfort to some degree. Get plenty of rest, and try to find a comfortable position on your left side. Your doctor may suggest you take over-the-counter pain medication in small doses if the pain persists. Ask your obstetrician what he or she thinks is best and safest for the baby.

MORE: How Do I Know If I’m in Labor? }

The most important thing to remember with either an irritable uterus or Braxton Hicks is that though these contractions are not necessarily a sign of preterm labor, they can very well lead to it. If you have been experiencing contractions that suddenly become more painful or come at regular intervals, you may be in labor, and you need to see your doctor right away. Or if you experience any bleeding, leaking fluid, or your membranes rupture (your water breaks), these are also signs of labor, and your doctor should be notified immediately.

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Irritable Uterus vs. Braxton Hicks

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34 comments

  1. Lynna says:

    i have not experienced braxton hicks contractions yet, but who knows? lol

  2. Christina says:

    I’m starting to have them all the time and I’m only 27wks

  3. victoria says:

    I think I’ve had braxton-hicks contractions a couple of times. Since this is my first pregnancy I’m not 100 percent sure if they were contractions. I can only describe the feeling as strange but not painful.

  4. GENA says:

    My doc blames the uncomforted contractions on stress and anxiety and recommends medications. I do not see eye to eye with her.

  5. ktetter1st says:

    i think i had the braxton-hicks and didn’t know what was going on until i talked to my midwife about it, but thanks for this article it was very helpful also.

  6. Tina says:

    Nice to know since I didn’t know about either until this article.

  7. Tina says:

    I contracted during both a 20 and 26 week ultrasound and I am now on partial bedrest at 27 weeks due to my cervix thinning.

  8. I got the braxton-hicks and I was very scared because I didn’t know what was happening.

  9. Elfie says:

    I had irritable uterus.

  10. tiffanysue22 says:

    I have had very painful contractions, mostly at work. I just let it go as braxton hicks but I will def. talk to the doctor about it at my appointment in a few days!

  11. Ashley says:

    being pregnant for the first time this site has been a great resource tool.

  12. verochka31 says:

    Again, great heads up and information, especially for those women that had noone to prepare them for all this. Sometimes I wish that every woman out there pregnant knew about this great site……………..

  13. AmyC says:

    As usual very good information

  14. I have been feeling something different lately. Not necessarily painful, but irritating. Not sure what it is…

  15. Jeanetta says:

    At 36 weeks I’m having what I’m guessing is Braxton Hixes contractions, but I’ve started to dilate at the end of 35 weeks.

  16. Faleshia says:

    i actually had both IUS irritable uterus syndrome and braxton hicks contractions. there really is no difference.

  17. Anna says:

    I feel pain similar to menstrual cramps and my doc said it’s Braxton-Hicks… but it feels nothing like it is described in this article

  18. Jeanetta says:

    Very informative…I’ve been having menstrual cramps on and off during my entire pregnancy.

  19. Anna says:

    I feel pain similar to menstrual cramps and my doc said it’s Braxton-Hicks… but it feels nothing like it is described in this article

  20. marylove says:

    I actually was told that I have Irritable Uterus and let me tell you, what I am experiencing is way different than what is described in this article. I have regular, consistant contrations. They don’t stop at all and come about every 7 to 5 min. They are very painfull like I am in labor. They have tried every medication known to stop false labor but none have them worked! There is no relief. I was told by my doctor and nurses at the hospital that I should buy a blow up pool because they don’t think I’m going to make it to the hospital in time. I was told that what I am feeling probably won’t change much when labor actually start and that I might have the baby at home because I won’t realize I’m in labor and I live 45min away from the hospital. Either an EMT or Fire Fighter probably will be delivering the baby!

    • sayhola says:

      How did it go? Did you make it to the hospital??? How far along were you when you were having such consistent (yet not labor) contractions? Wishes that it all went OK.

  21. I don’t remember having them with my first child but I did have them with my second…. they were painful but after a warm shower they went away…. I had them two times before the real deal came!!!

  22. Julie says:

    My grandma has no idea what I am talking about when I tell her about these, even though I have tried several times to explain it to her and she had 3 kids. It helps to walk when you have them, it eases the pain.

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