How Your Uterus Practices For Birth

July 7, 2017

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In this episode of Taking Back Birth, Maryn talks about how your uterus “practices” for birth!

Download this podcasts PDF transcript

In this podcast Maryn discusses how and when the uterus warms up for birth, the fear around these practice contractions, the variation in women’s experiences, what you can do for comfort and prevention if needed, plus much more. Maryn weaves in real-life stories and anecdotes throughout the podcast to help shine some light on this often misunderstood organ!

Some topics covered and questions answered:

  • Understanding practice contractions a.k.a. Braxton-Hicks
  • What is true preterm labor?
  • Variation from woman to woman (and across pregnancies)
  • Common fears women have
  • What do the terms irritable uterus and excitable uterus mean?
  • How we can use nutrition to support a healthy uterus
  • How a posterior baby can effect the uterus
  • What can cause contractions
  • Is bedrest effective for preterm labor?
  • How to lessen practice contractions if you want to

The uterus gets ready for birth by having practice contractions – commonly known as Braxton Hicks contractions – during pregnancy. Many first time moms aren’t sure about what they are feeling and wonder “is it a practice contraction or am I in labor”? As the muscles of the uterus tighten in pregnancy the function and sensation can feel different than labor contractions. The baby moving on a full bladder can kick of a practice contraction, without the hormones that labor brings.

A fear of preterm labor is normal, and Maryn talks about her pregnancy with Deva where she experienced lots of practice contractions throughout the pregnancy, and what she did to understand them.

Maryn also talks about two other women’s experiences with contractions in pregnancy, how they were treated, and possibly causes.

So, what exactly are practice contractions?

  • Warming up of the uterus
  • Superficial
  • Do not change the cervix
  • Random, inconsistent
  • Stop-start with change in movement
  • Can be annoying

What causes them?

  • Infections like a UTI to BV
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stomach flu
  • Gas, bloating, constipation
  • Super active baby
  • Dehydration
  • Full bladder
  • Moving and resettling into a new home
  • Actual uterine stimulation like sex and breastfeeding
  • Time of day

What can we do to lessen them if we want to?

  • Eat
  • Drink electrolytes
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Change position
  • Take a bath and relax
  • Use herbals, homeopathics, essential oils and relax
  • Drink alcohol

Maryn closes by discussing the term “excitable uterus” as an alternate to using prodromal labor. She found an interesting article online written by a midwife who talks about the excitable uterus needing more tone and circulation. Maybe there is a mineral deficiency in our modern diet causing this, possibly babies aren’t positioning as well as they have in the past. Posterior babies seem to be connected to the excitable uterus as well. Veterinarians are seeing the same thing in animals they care for – what’s the connection to us? Can Vitamin D, magnesium, and walking for 20 minutes a day make a difference?

Answers to these questions and much more in this podcast so tune in! Also check out all that Indie Birth has to offer online:



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  1. Britney Gonzales says:

    Thank you so much for this episode! I am 33 weeks pregnant with my 4th baby and have been having contractions daily for weeks now (obviously with no progression into labor). I am focusing on staying in tune with my body and my baby and trusting that I will know if something is not right. I am so grateful for the wonderful insight and information you provide!

  2. Laura Horn says:

    I’m just curious what herbal remedies you use to treat BV? This is my 4th pregnancy and never had issues in my previous pregnancies but I did reluctantly go in to get antibiotic treatement after several other things didn’t work. Thank you so much for all you do! Absolutely love all the podcasts ❤

  3. Maryn Green says:

    Hi Laura! Yes, you could look into using plain yogurt or hydrogen peroxide for treatment. I also like the supplement Yeast Arrest outside of pregnancy or even during if that feels right to you. Best wishes!

  4. Evan L Golem says:

    Thanks for this! Perfect timing for me to happen upon this podcast because I am noticing more and more practice contractions lately around 28 weeks, specifically during increased physical activity. In this pregnancy after loss I am finding myself concerned about pre-term labor even though my two previous babies came after 40-41 weeks. I think the fear of pre-term labor is surfacing for me partially because of my loss (and fear of anything going wrong really), partially because of a recent suspected (and home treated under the counsel of my midwife) BV infection, and partially because upon checking my own cervix a week or so ago things felt much different and softer in there than they did prior to pregnancy or anything I have encountered in my years of self discovery and fertility tracking. I have wondered what the D&E may have done to my body (could cytotec and the somewhat surgical removal of my placenta weaken or change my cervix?) or what about the blood transfusion that was necessary during the induction of my miscarriage? My mind runs rampant sometimes. Other times I am calm and confident. Pregnancy after loss is a new experience for me. But from listening to this podcast, I am reasoning that my practice contractions are totally normal, my fears are more an aspect of grief and wanting to keep this baby as safe and healthy as possible, and that I need to be sure to eat, drink, rest well and try to listen to what my body is telling me and respond appropriately while continuing to navigate the grief and fears that come in waves and sneak up on me! Thanks for being so open and honest about your experience! It helps to know I am not alone on this emotional roller coaster. Xoxo -Evan Lee

  5. Deserea Woolf says:

    Great Podcast Maryn!

  6. Heather says:

    What if any correlation between uterine activity (“irritable uterus” doesn’t resonate with me at all!) and polyhydramnios?

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We are mamas and midwives who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are radical, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit to help move us all towards a new more beautiful world. With 12 children and over two decades of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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