All about Braxton Hicks Contractions

In advanced stages of your pregnancy, you will have Braxton Hicks contraction quite often, but when you are still few weeks due for your pregnancy, these co9ntarctions will be occasional and less painful. However when you will have just a couple of weeks left for your due date your cervix will start preparing for the labor, hence Braxton Contractions during this time will be more frequent and intense causing a lot of discomfort. The article below will try to provide you an insight of what these Braxton hicks are, when it starts and what are its causes.

 

What is Braxton Hicks Contraction?

Braxton Hicks Contractions are spasmodic contractions in the uterine which begins in the primary stage of pregnancy. However, in the earlier stage the contraction are so minimal that they are hardly noticed. It is only in mid-pregnancy that they are noticeable and some women even never notice them. They’re named for John Braxton Hicks, the English doctor who first described them in 1872. However, sometimes Braxton Hicks contractions are hard to distinguish from early signs of preterm labor, so play it safe and don’t try to make the diagnosis yourself. If you haven’t hit 37 weeks yet and you’re having regular contractions, or if you have any of the signs of preterm labor listed below, call your provider immediately.

 

When does Braxton Hicks Contractions Start?

Braxton Hicks contractions can begin as early as the second trimester. However, they are most commonly experienced in the third trimester. When this happens, the muscles of the uterus tighten for approximately 30 to 60 seconds and sometimes as long as two minutes. Braxton Hicks Contractions usually start when you are about 7 weeks pregnant, but you won’t feel them at first. If this is your first pregnancy, you might start to feel them from about 16 weeks. In later pregnancies, you may feel Braxton Hicks contractions more often, or earlier. Some women won’t feel them at all. Remember, Braxton Hicks contractions don’t cause labor and aren’t a sign that labor is beginning.

 

Reasons for Braxton Hicks Contractions

There are possible causes of these contractions. Some physicians and midwives believe that they play a part in toning the uterine muscle and promoting the flow of blood to the placenta. They are not thought to have a role in dilating the cervix, but might have some impact on the softening of the cervix.

However, as Braxton Hicks contractions intensify nearer the time of delivery, the contractions are often referred to as false labor. When this occurs, it can help the dilation and effacement process.

The following reasons trigger Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • When mother or the baby are very active
  • If someone touches the mother’s belly
  • When the bladder is full
  • After sex
  • Dehydration

 

Placental Abruption Can Be A Cause Of Braxton Hicks

The placenta connects the growing baby to the mother’s uterus. It acts as a “lifeline” that gives food and oxygen to the baby through the umbilical cord. Placental abruption happens when the placenta separates from the uterus before the baby is born. In most cases, the placenta stays attached to the uterus. In the case of placental abruption, this lifeline is placed at risk.

Placental abruption can be life-threatening to the baby and sometimes to the mother. It can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, blood loss in the mother, and in rare cases, it can cause the baby’s death.

About 1 out of 100 pregnancies has placental abruption. This condition is usually seen in the third trimester, but it can also happen after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

A woman who’s had a previous abruption has a 10 percent chance of having another one in a future pregnancy. However, doctors don’t know an exact cause of placental abruption. Having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll experience a placental abruption.

Each woman can have different symptoms of placental abruption. However, the most common symptom is vaginal bleeding with pain during the third trimester of pregnancy. Sometimes the blood will be behind the placenta. In that case, there will be no bleeding. Symptoms also can include:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Uterine contractions.
  • Tender uterus 
  • Backache

Remember, these symptoms also can be similar to those of other conditions. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms that you may be having.

A doctor diagnoses placental abruption by conducting a physical exam, and often by performing an ultrasound. You doctor May also conduct blood tests and fetal monitoring. Your doctor may suspect placental abruption, but they can only truly diagnose it after you’ve given birth. They will try to collect as much information as possible to make the best decision for you and your baby.

You can’t prevent placental abruption, but you can decrease certain risk factors. For example, don’t smoke or use illegal drugs, such as cocaine. If you have high blood pressure, work with your health care provider to monitor the condition. Always wear your seatbelt when in a motor vehicle. If you’ve had abdominal trauma — from an auto accident, fall or other injury — seek immediate medical help. If you’ve had a placental abruption, and you’re planning another pregnancy, talk to your health care provider before you conceive to see if there are ways to reduce the risk of another abruption.

Braxton-Hicks contractions are not typically as painful as those of true labor contractions may be. Some women describe them as a tightening sensation across the lower abdomen. They may feel similar to menstrual cramps in some women. The abdomen may become firm to the touch. They do not occur at regular intervals. Every mother needs some pampering before the arrival of her little bundle of joy, keep yourself strong and positive and everything would go well.

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