Let’s travel back the memory lane a bit. Do you remember, back in school, when you used to have drills to prepare you for a natural calamity. Well, we have a similar mechanism for labour as well known as Braxton Hicks Contractions, the only difference being, it is not driven by any external forces but completely natural. Did your drill, in any way, indicate that you would be witnessing an earthquake soon? Good Lord no right? Similar is the case with Braxton Hicks Contractions. They are, in no way, an indication that the labour has started or is about to begin.
What is Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Braxton Hicks contraction is the tightening of uterine muscles that comes and goes. The term originated back in 1872 when a doctor named John Braxton Hicks described the contractions that take place prior to the real labour. Pretty conveniently named there you see. The are often called as “false labours” or “non-labour contractions”. The whole point is to get your uterine muscles buckled up for real labour.
What do they feel like?
They are described more as an uncomfortable experience than painful. Many women Braxton Hicks Contractions as tightening in the abdomen or belly. Some describe it as hardening or squeezing of the uterus. All in all, it basically feels like a low pressure which could go on for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Braxton Hicks vs Labour Contractions
One of the struggles during pregnancy is to differentiate between Non-labour contractions and labour contractions. The following are some of the features that distinguishes the former from the latter.
- Non-labour contractions have an irregular pattern and should ease off once you change the position.
- The intensity dies away in case of Braxton Hicks. It might start off as strong or weak whatsover but ends on a weaker note.
- It doesn’t occur over once or twice a day until the last phase of pregnancy where it happens frequently.
- In the last leg of pregnancy, one experiences a lot of Braxton Hicks Contractions, more like every 10-20 minutes. One gets used to it by then as the discomfort wears away.
- If you cannot distinguish between the two then you can call up the doctor for a proper vaginal examination who would look up for any change in cervix.
When does Braxton Hicks Contractions start?
Almost all pregnant women experience these contractions. However,r the timing could different from woman to woman. Most of the women experience it in their third trimester whereas some experience it as early as in the second trimester itself. The frequency increases through week 32 until the real labour starts.
What causes Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Braxton Hicks Contractions are hardening of the uterine muscles for 1-2 minutes. Uterine muscle fibers tighten and relax. One of the most common causes of BHC are dehydration and exhaustion. Other triggers leading to it could be fetal movement, sexual or lifting activities. A full bladder could also trigger Braxton Hicks Contractions.
How to alleviate the discomfort caused by Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Braxton Hicks Contractions is one of the many things that the doctor and patient discuss by mid-pregnancy. It is one of the many normal changes that a woman’s body experiences during pregnancy. So awareness about the same is important to decrease the anxiety and worry during actual contractions. As such there is no treatment or medication required or exists for the same. However certain actions and measures can be taken tk ease of Braxton Hicks:
- If your bladder feels full, empty it and if you feel dehydrated drink a big glass of water.
- Changing position helps: If you’ve been very active, relax for a bit and if you’ve been sitting idle for long, go for a brisk walk.
- Relax while taking a hot water bath and get a massage if needed.
- A warm cup of herbal tea or milk also soothes a lot.
- Basically any activity, be it troubling your hubby, that relaxes your body and mind soothes away the contraction.
When should I call the doctor?
You can call the doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Vaginal bleeding
- If your water breaks or in case of constant leakage of fluids.
- Powerful contractions every 5 minutes upto an hour.
- Unbearable contractions
- A definite change in baby’s movements inside the womb.
- Signs of labour pain before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a topsy-turvy path of discovery. All pains subside when you visualize the moment when you’ll be holding your toddler in your arms. It’s worth the pain and discomfort, ain’t it mommies?
You can check this contnet in video form for easy understanding from our youtube channel and here is the link of the video