If you are pregnant you may have heard about Braxton Hicks, which are contractions that you may feel during pregnancy but are not real labour contractions. Unlike true labour contractions, they are infrequent, less intense, and generally go away when you change position. Braxton Hicks happens when your body is preparing for labour; however, it is not necessarily a sign that labour is coming.
What Are Braxton Hicks?
Before the onset of labour, you might experience false labour contractions, also called Braxton Hicks contractions. These infrequent uterine contractions are nothing to worry about and are perfectly normal. You might start feeling them in your second trimester, and they happen when the uterus tightens and relaxes. Your body is preparing for labour.
What Do These Contractions Feel Like?
You will experience a tightening in the abdomen that happens infrequently. Unlike real labour contractions, they do not get closer together, and they do not become more intense and last longer. Braxton Hicks contractions can be uncomfortable and resemble mild menstrual cramps. They typically go away with rest or a change in position. You can resume normal activities with these contractions.
In What Part Of The Body Do You Experience It The Most?
Braxton Hicks are usually felt in the front of the abdomen and not in the lower section of your uterus or your back. It is more uncomfortable than painful.
What Does It Feel Like When You Have True Labour Contractions?
Not all women are created equally, and it may feel different for one woman to the next. You will feel a dull ache in your lower abdomen and back with real labour contractions. It causes discomfort, and some women may even feel pain in their thighs and sides. For some, it resembles intense menstrual cramps. You might find it difficult to walk or talk with true labour contractions. They are painful and will happen more frequently when you get closer to labour.
Possible Causes Of Braxton Hicks
It is unclear why Braxton Hicks contractions happen to some women but not others. Braxton Hicks happens when your body and uterine muscles are preparing to give birth. Some doctors believe that false labour contractions help to thin and soften the cervix (effacement). Certain things might bring them on, for example:
- Having intercourse
- Being dehydrated
- Picking up a heavy item
- Having to pee
- Living a very active lifestyle
When Do False Labour Contractions Begin?
Most women start experiencing Braxton Hicks during the second trimester or at the beginning of the third trimester. If this is not your first pregnancy, it may even start earlier. Braxton Hicks during the second trimester is typically mild, and are most likely to start after physical activity like having sex or working out. They come and go and pass quickly. If they become more frequent and painful, it’s best to have yourself checked by your healthcare provider.
False Labour Contractions Vs. True Labour Contractions
When you start having contractions before your 37th week of pregnancy, you might think you are entering preterm labour. At the end of their pregnancy, some women might wonder whether they are experiencing Braxton Hicks or real labour contractions. It helps to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of true labour, to distinguish between the two. There are a few distinct differences between them.
- Contractions are infrequent and do not become more regular. For instance, they might happen in intervals of 10 minutes, then 6 minutes, 2 minutes, 7 minutes, etc.
- They are less intense than true labour contractions, more like mild menstrual cramps.
- You feel them in the front of your body.
- You can get relief by resting or changing your position
True Labour Contractions
- The contractions are predictable and regular, for instance, every 8 minutes, and get close together with time.
- A steady intensity and increase are experienced.
- The contractions start at your back and travel to your front, usually low in the groin area.
- A change of position will not reduce or stop the contractions.
If you are unsure whether you have Braxton Hicks or real labour contractions, speak to your doctor. If you notice any of the following symptoms of labour, contact your physician immediately:
- Abdominal pressure or cramping
- A change in your vaginal discharge (clear or pink discharge that is brownish or slightly bloody could be your mucus plug that came out)
- Dull pain in your lower back
- Your water breaking
We hope this post about everything there is to know about Braxton Hicks has been insightful and that it has answered some of the questions you might have.