During your second and third trimesters of pregnancy, you may find yourself in situations when your belly tightens a bit and becomes quite firm to the touch, and then becomes normal again. You experience these episodes due to the contractions of the uterine muscles – they are referred to as Braxton Hicks contractions.

Some women experience mild contractions, while others experience stronger contractions. These contractions usually begin when you enter the 20th week of pregnancy, but they become more frequent when you are between the 28th and 30th week of pregnancy.

What Do Braxton Hicks at 30 Weeks Feel Like?

Braxton Hicks at this time may last anywhere between 30 seconds and two minutes. These are not actual contractions that come with some pain and increase in intensity. Braxton Hicks contractions come with minimal pain and no predictability. Some women only experience a tightening sensation in the lower abdomen and nothing else. While some other women describe these contractions as menstrual cramps.

How Moms Describe It?

"During my first pregnancy, I did not notice any of these contractions. With my second pregnancy, I've started experiencing them since 30 weeks. These contractions are quite intense for me and it often feels as if my lungs are getting squashed. I cannot even push my finger into my tummy."

"I am now 30 weeks pregnant, and I get back and side pains almost all the time. They wake me up in the middle of the night. I do not usually feel much pain but the tightness is so severe that it makes me bend forward a little. It becomes normal when I walk around for some time."

"I am in my 30th week of pregnancy and experience serious pressure on my lower abdomen. My tummy becomes very hard and I even feel a sharp pain at times. Walking a little helps me find some relief. I have also found that it helps when I lie down with my feet elevated a little."

Could It Be Early Labor?

The most common concern for women who experience Braxton Hicks at 30 weeks is what to do if it is early labor contractions. It is true that early labor lasts a couple of days and usually the longest part of the birthing process, but Braxton Hicks has nothing to do with early labor. If your uterine contractions are due to early labor, you will experience the following.

  • Contractions will be mild and last no more than 30-45 seconds.
  • You will be able to talk while having the contractions.
  • There will be a degree of consistency with these contractions and they may be 5 to 20 minutes apart.

When you enter early labor, your cervix dilates to about 1.2 inches. You may remain in early labor for many hours if this is your first pregnancy. The cervix may not dilate that much either. You may rush to the hospital due to contractions, but your doctor will send you back and ask you to wait until active labor starts.

What About Pre-Labor?

Braxton Hicks contractions become more rhythmic when you enter pre-labor stage, every 10 to 20 minutes. If you feel uncomfortable due to the tightening of your uterus, it will become a bit difficult for you to tell the difference between pre-labor and early labor. Your doctor will conduct an exam and confirm.

What Can You Do to Ease It?

Braxton Hicks at 30 weeks may become a bit uncomfortable, but you do not usually need any treatment. Just take them as practice contractions and practice breathing techniques that will come handy once you are in labor. Try breathing out long and slow when you have a Braxton Hicks contraction. Change your position if you are active, eat something, or drink a glass of water to ease your contractions.

Here are some other steps to take when you experience Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • Take a walk: If you feel any discomfort when having contractions, get up and start walking. If you have been walking when you have your contractions, sit down for a while.
  • Relax: Do not panic. It is normal to have these contractions. Taking a bath for about half an hour or getting a massage will also help relax your nerves. Listening to music, reading, and napping may also work.
  • Know your triggers: While it is quite normal and natural to have Braxton Hicks contractions, you may notice that certain activities trigger these contractions. Some women experience these contractions after exercise, while others have them after they have sex. You may also have these contractions due to dehydration. Knowing your triggers will help manage things better.

When to Call a Doctor

As mentioned already, it is quite normal to have Braxton Hicks at 30 weeks. Still, you may want to talk to your doctor if you experience serious discomfort. It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor if you experience contractions when you are less than 37 weeks pregnant. Be sure to contact your doctor if your contractions occur at regular intervals and are 10 minutes apart. You should also get medical attention if:

  • You have more than five contractions an hour.
  • You have pain or tightening in your lower abdomen.
  • You experience pressure in your vagina or pelvis.
  • You notice vaginal bleeding.
  • You notice vaginal discharge.
  • You have flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea.