Do Real Contractions Make It Hard To Breathe? Experts Explain How They Impact Your Breathing

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So what is the difference between real contractions and false labor? Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB-GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper that false labor can occur before labor actually begins. “False labor is described as irregular uterine pains or contractions that do not increase in severity and frequency. False labor contractions can occur every 10 to 20 minutes for a few hours and then stop all together. False labor creates a lot of confusion for expecting moms,” Ross explains. And in my experience, they also don’t tend to take your breath away quite as much.

As far as Braxton Hicks, which I thought was what I was feeling when I was in false labor, they don’t actually hurt. “Braxton Hicks contractions are painless contractions where real contractions are painful. When you experience a Braxton Hicks contraction you will see your uterus tighten and become hard like a rock, but it is not associated with pain,” Ross says. So they definitely do not take your breath away — unless it’s from shock that one side of your belly is huge all of the sudden and the other one is not from the uterus contracting. “When you experience a Braxton contraction, they occur [in] irregular intervals, meaning there is no pattern to the frequency of Braxton Hicks contractions. They tend to be very subtle and most pregnant women don’t realize they are having them,” Ross adds. “Real uterine contractions start as a menstrual cramp and continue getting more intense and painful, unlike Braxton Hicks contractions.”

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