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You can be having Braxton Hicks contractions if your tummy feels tight or cramps at any point throughout your pregnancy. This is perfectly natural, therefore it’s not a sign that you’re getting ready for labour.
False or “practice” contractions are other names for Braxton Hicks contractions.
Braxton Hicks contractions: what are they?
An abdominal discomfort in the form of tightness known as a Braxton Hicks contraction happens momentarily. As you approach closer to giving delivery, your uterus is contracting. They could also assist in uterine muscle toning and cervix preparation.
The commencement of labour or the actual beginning of labour is not indicated by Braxton Hicks contractions.
If you’re unclear if the contractions you’re experiencing are Braxton Hicks or true labour, speak to your doctor or midwife. It is not labour if there seem to be no signs of your cervix changing during the vaginal examination.
What do they feel like?
You surely feel your uterus stiffening and muscles throughout your abdomen tightening when you put your hands on your stomach during a Braxton Hicks contraction.
The contractions normally last 30 seconds and come and go in random order. They are rarely unpleasant, despite the fact that they might be uncomfortable.
Your contractions are probably Braxton Hicks contractions if the pain or discomfort subsides.
When do you start receiving them?
The first signs of Braxton Hicks contractions may not appear until the second trimester of your pregnancy, although they start early. You may begin to experience them as early as 16 weeks into your first pregnancy. You could have Braxton Hicks contractions more frequently or earlier in later pregnancies. They won’t even be noticed by many women.
In the later stages of pregnancy, you may experience a Braxton Hicks contraction every 10 to 20 minutes or more. This is a sign of pre-labour, the time leading up to delivery.
What distinguishes Braxton Hicks contractions from labour pain?
Your doctor can help determine if you are in labour by comparing Braxton Hicks contractions to Actual labour contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions:
- don’t cause your cervix to thin and open
- they tend to come and go at odd times (until late in pregnancy)
- they can be uncomfortable, but they’re usually not painful
- typically last for about 30 seconds
- they typically stop if you move or engage in an activity or go when you take a warm bath or shower
Actual labour contractions
- lead in the cervix thinning and opening
- occurs for 30 to 70 seconds
- becomes quite regular and gets closer together
- lasts longer with time
- gets stronger or occurs more frequently as you move
What can I do to lessen the pain?
Contractions caused by the Braxton Hicks syndrome are harmless and untreated. Nonetheless, if you’re uneasy, you can try:
- reclining, going for a stroll, unwinding in a warm bath
- or getting a massage
- It could be beneficial to practise your breathing techniques when experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions.
Should I contact the midwife or my doctor?
Contractions may be a symptom of early labour if you are a little less than 37 weeks pregnant. Get in touch with your doctor or midwife right immediately if:
- Your contractions intensify, spread out, and increase in frequency.
- Your vagina may leak or gush fluid.
- In your lower back, tummy, or pelvic area, you can experience pressure, pain, or discomfort.
Based on your decision and that of your doctor or midwife, you may elect to delay the commencement of labour if you are full-term. You should go to the hospital if your waters burst or if your contractions are consistent and spaced 5 minutes apart.
Any time during your pregnancy, you should definitely get in touch with your doctor right away if you:
- you get stomach ache that doesn’t go away.
- you realise your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped completely, you have vaginal bleeding, and you feel quite ill.
Never hesitate to reach out to your doctor for guidance if you are unsure.
What results in the contractions of Braxton Hicks?
Why some people have Braxton Hicks while others do not is a mystery. The muscles in your uterus are preparing for delivery. Some medical professionals believe that Braxton Hicks contractions might narrow and soften your cervix (effacement).
You could get them as a result of several factors, including:
- being thirsty
- being really active
- having to urinate
- getting sexual
- lifting a hefty object