Braxton Hicks contractions refer to the intermittent uterine contractions that start in early pregnancy but you don’t notice them until after mid-pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, Braxton Hicks contractions occur somewhat more often, but until you get to your last few weeks, they remain infrequent and irregular.
Sometimes Braxton Hicks contractions are hard to distinguish from early signs of preterm labor. If you aren’t around 37 weeks into your pregnancy and having regular contractions, it is better to see your doctor. Within a couple of weeks of your due date, your cervix gradually softens up in preparation for labor. Contractions during this time may get more intense and frequent, and cause discomfort.
What to Expect with Braxton Hicks Contractions
When you have Braxton Hicks contraction, you are likely to feel your uterus, lower abdominal area, or groin tighten or squeeze, and then relax. They are irregular and usually don’t hurt, though they may be uncomfortable and occasionally are strong and painful.
Difference between Braxton Hicks Contraction and True Labour
In the days or weeks shortly before labor, Braxton Hicks contractions may become rhythmic, relatively close together, and even painful, possibly leading you into thinking you’re in labor. Unlike true labor, contractions in Braxton Hicks don’t grow consistently longer, stronger, and closer together. These contractions can happen at any time, but you’re especially likely to notice them at night, when you’re dehydrated or have a full bladder, and during physical activity or sex.
Painful Braxton-Hicks Contractions
Braxton-Hicks contractions aren’t usually painful, but they can be uncomfortable. If you feel discomfort from these contractions, you could try the following:
- Change your activity or position. Sometimes, walking provides relief. Other times, resting eases Braxton-Hicks contractions.
- Drink water as sometimes, these contractions may be caused due to dehydration.
- Try relaxation exercises or take slow, deep breaths. This won’t stop the Braxton Hicks contraction, but it may help you cope with the discomfort.
If you are less than 37 weeks into your pregnancy, see your doctor immediately if your contractions become more rhythmic, painful, or frequent, or if you have any of these signs of preterm labor:
- Abdominal pain or menstruation-like cramping
- Regular contractions of at least six per hour, or every 10 minutes, even if they don’t hurt
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
- An increase in vaginal discharge
- A change in the type of discharge
- More pressure in the pelvic or lower abdominal area (like your baby is pushing down)
- Low back pain, especially if you didn’t have it before or if it’s dull or rhythmic
In true labour, your contractions will come at regular intervals and last from 30 to 90 seconds. They get steadily stronger and will happen more frequently, no matter what you do. See the experts at KIMS Cuddles to know the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and true labour, so that you can make your decision about when to head to hospital.
*Information shared here is for general purpose Please take doctors’ advice before taking any decision.