Braxton Hicks can be very painful for some but are different. Being a first time mom you won't know until you are really having the real deal. The real ones are regular contractions and with time get closer and closer. Until you see a true sign of regular contractions assume they are BH. And believe me, you'll know. They are a different feel, hard to explain until you go through it yourself.
For me, the BH was a pulling and reaction to activity I was doing or just a constant nagging on my body. With my oldest, I had some occasional tightening around the middle. With my second it was horrid. The pain at times put me in tears, kept me awake at night as well. When I'd get up to walk they hit hard so I had to sit or lay a lot to avoid them. With my triplets I couldn't feel them because I was so stretched out my stomach was numb.
Braxton Hicks is like practice contractions. It readies your uterus for labor. Why we have to be over prepared is beyond me, lol. But real contraction will start off soft and far apart, anywhere from an hour to 30 minutes or so. They will become a bit harder and closer together with time. You'll know the difference when it really comes. Very rarely do they hit you hard and all at once. Those are the rare stories. The only way you'd miss the beginning ones is if you slept through them but nature wakes you up. You sense what is happening.
mom to 5 including triplets