What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
Braxton Hicks are probably best described as ’practice’ Contractions, as your body begins to prepare itself for the birth of your baby. Not all women experience braxton hicks, although they are a normal part of pregnancy. They are named after John Braxton Hicks, the doctor who first described them in 1272.
Braxton Hicks Symptoms
What do Braxton Hicks feel like?
Many women describe them as a tightening, or like period pains. They are not usually painful, but can be uncomfortable for some women. As the muscles of your uterus begin to contract, the uterus becomes hard to the touch. They usually last for less than a minute before subsiding and can happen several times a day.
Why do they happen?
Although the cause remains unknown, some experts think they help increase the flow of blood to the placenta and the transfer of oxygen to the foetus. They are also thought to soften and tone the muscles of the uterus.
When do they start?
They actually start from as early as six or seven weeks, although most women don’t notice them until the later months. Over the final weeks of pregnancy they become more intense and are sometimes referred to as ’false labour.’
Dehydration is thought to make them more uncomfortable, so drinking plenty of water can sometimes help. Other triggers include having a full bladder and having been on your feet for a long time.
How do I know it’s just Braxton Hicks?
Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular, don’t last long, and are fairly weak, without getting h4er or more intense. They may stop when you walk, rest or change positions.
When it comes to the ’real thing,’ labour contractions are regular, frequent, last for longer, are more painful, and get more intense as your labour progresses. Find out more about the signs of labour here.