Braxton Hicks Contractions – What Are Braxton Hicks?
|Pregnancy Week (Select):|
Braxton Hicks Contractions – What Are Braxton Hicks?
Braxton Hicks are painless, irregular uterine contractions, although some women do report feeling discomfort during them. The contractions do not become more intense, frequent or longer over time, because they are practise contractions and not labour contractions. Each contraction tends to last around 30 seconds, although can last up to two minutes. It is uncommon for women to experience more than four in an hour.
Why Do I Get Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions are thought to increase blood flow to the uterus and placenta, and aid the transfer of oxygen to the foetus. Some health practitioners believe that Braxton Hicks tightenings are the body’s way of preparing for labour – a work out for the uterine muscles, if you will. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, Braxton Hicks contractions help to move the baby and engage the head in preparation for labour.
During a contraction, your belly will feel quite hard to the touch. If looking in a mirror, you will be able to see your muscles tightening as you experience a contraction. Some women report being able to see the position of the baby in the womb during tightenings.
Who Gets Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions start around the sixth week of pregnancy, although may not be felt until the second or third trimester. This is because the larger the uterus, the more obvious the contractions feel. All women have Braxton Hicks contractions, but not all women will feel them. Some women may be able to feel them early on, whereas others may experience them only during the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Do Braxton Hicks Contractions Cause Any Problems?
Braxton Hicks contractions are a normal part of pregnancy and do not indicate cause for concern. Similarly, not experiencing them is normal too – it just means you can’t feel them happening. Assuming you feel able to, you can continue as normal and do not need to take any extra precautions as a result of these contractions.
What Should I Do If I Experience Braxton Hicks Contractions?
During the last few weeks of pregnancy, you may start to experience more discomfort during Braxton Hicks contractions, this is due to the larger size of your uterus.
To avoid discomfort, you can try the following:
- Change activity or position. If you are sitting down, try getting up and taking a walk or some light exercise. If you were standing up, trying lying down on your left hand side. You should find a change of pace causes the tightenings to ease off.
- If you can, try having a warm bath. This may stop the contractions, or you may find the heat relaxes you and decreases any discomfort.
- Drink a glass of water. Braxton Hicks can be caused by dehydration, and due to the excess water pregnant women need to consume, it is always worth having a glass to see if this helps.
- The tightenings can be brought on by having a full bladder (no doubt due to all that excess water you’ve been drinking trying to stop the last bout of Braxton Hicks contractions!), so try going to the toilet.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, the contractions may become more uncomfortable, but should still not grow longer, stronger and closer together like the contractions of true labour.
If you are worried that your contractions do not fit the description here, and may be real labour, please contact your midwife. If the contractions are accompanied by vaginal bleeding, lower back pain, vaginal discharge or diarrhea, you should ring your midwife immediately.
Follow Kelly, BellyBelly’s creator, on Google+ and become a fan of BellyBelly on Facebook. BellyBelly is also on Twitter. Please note that all of my suggestions and advice are of a generalised nature only and are not intended to replace advice from a qualified professional. BellyBelly.com.au – The Thinking Woman’s Website For Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.
More Birth Articles
- “Sorry, You’re Not In Labour…”
- 8 Natural & Effective Tips For a ‘Stalled’ Labour
- A Proven Method for Lowering the Caesarean Rate
- Active Birth – For A Shorter Labour, Less Pain and More
- Acupuncture & Natural Labour Induction – 11 Most Asked Questions
- Baby Not Engaged? Wondering When Your Baby Might Engage?
- Bearing Down or Pushing While Giving Birth?
- Best Birth Books – The Best Birth Books As Recommended by BellyBelly
- Big Baby? Then You Must Read This Article…
- Birth As A Bowel Movement
- Birth Plan – Why Write One? Free Birth Plan Template
- Birth Recommendations from the World Health Organisation
- Birth Support – 10 Great Tips That Will Help Her In Labour
- Birth Unplanned – When Birth Doesn’t Go To Plan
- Birth Videos – BellyBelly’s Favourite Birth Videos
- Breastfeeding After A Caesarean Birth
- Breech Birth in Australia – Having a Vaginal Breech Birth
- Caesarean Section – Risks Of Caesarean Section For Baby
- Caesarean Section – Risks Of Caesarean Section For The Mother
- Caesarean Section – What to Expect After A Caesarean
- Caesarean Section Birth – What Happens in a Caesarean
- Caesarean Section Myths Exploded
- Caesarean Section or Vaginal Birth – What Difference Does It Make?
- Castor Oil To Induce Labour – Is Castor Oil Safe?
- Childbirth – Your Top 12 Fears About Birth Answered
- Contractions – What Do Contractions Feel Like?
- Convinced You Want Drugs in Labour?
- Delayed Cord Clamping – Why You Should Demand It
- Doula Revolution – The Doula At Birth
- Doula Training – Australian Doula Training Options
- Doulas – 10 Top Reasons Why You Should Have A Doula At Your Birth
- Doulas: Working As a Birth Doula in Australia – FAQ’s
- Early Labour – 8 Tips For Coping With Labour at Home
- Epidural Side Effects & Risks Of An Epidural In Labour
- False Labour Contractions – Is It False Labour?
- Fast Birth? Born in a Hurry – When There’s No Time For Hospital
- Giving Birth After Stillbirth – A BellyBelly Member’s Story
- Giving Birth In Water – The Benefits of Waterbirth
- Hiring a Birth Attendant or Doula – Questions to Ask
- Homebirth – Having A Homebirth In Australia
- Hormones In Labour & Birth – How Your Body Helps You
- Hospital Bag For Labour – What To Pack For Hospital
- Induce Labour With Natural Methods – Bring On Labour Naturally
- Induction of Labour – The Risks of Labour Induction
- Men At Birth – Should Men Be In The Birth Room?
- Natural Birth – Tips For Natural Birth Success
- Natural Pain Relief Options For Labour
- Nipple Stimulation – How To Do Nipple Stimulation For Labour
- Pain in Labour: Your Hormones Are Your Helpers
- Saying ‘No’ to Unwanted Birth Support People
- Siblings At Birth – Should Children Be Present At Childbirth?
- Signs Of Labour – Early Signs Of Labour
- Small Pelvis? Here’s The Truth About Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)
- Sterile Water Injections – Taking the Pain Out of Back Labour
- Tens Machine – Using A Tens Machine For Labour
- The Third Stage of Labour – Benefits Of A Natural Third Stage
- Uterine Scar Rupture – What Is a Uterine Rupture?
- VBAC – On Whose Terms?
- VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) – What To Expect
- VBAC Birth Tips – Advice From VBAC Mums Who Have Done It!
- VBAC Sabotage – Is Your Doctor REALLY That VBAC Friendly?
- Water Birth – Preparing For Birth in Water
- Waterbirth in Australia – Locations Offering Waterbirth Facilities
- Waters Breaking – What Happens When Your Waters Break