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Home » Pregnancy & Baby Forums » Braxton Hicks contractions



Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions



What is the difference between a Braxton Hicks contraction and a true labor contraction?

Braxton Hicks contractions
As early as six weeks into all pregnancies, the uterus, which is a large muscle, begins to contract rhythmically. These contractions (called Braxton Hicks contractions or `False labor`) are usually irregular and painless. Because they usually do not cause the cervix to dilate, they do not threaten the pregnancy. They generally last about one to two minutes. While these contractions might be noticed during the second half of pregnancy, some women don't notice them at all.

Why do I have Braxton Hicks contractions?
Throughout the pregnancy, the uterus periodically contracts to facilitate better blood flow through the placenta and the fetus. Braxton Hicks contractions help to strengthen the uterine muscles and prepare them for the normal labor process.

What does a Braxton Hicks contraction feel like?

Braxton Hicks contractions aren't usually painful, just uncomfortable. It feels like a tightening of your belly in your lower abdomen and groin.



When is it getting serious?

Braxton Hicks contractions that tend to increase in frequency and intensity toward the end of the pregnancy may be misinterpreted as contractions of labor and are sometimes referred to as 'false labor' contractions. Women are not usually aware of cervical dilatation, the stretching and opening of the entrance to the uterus, and cervical dilatation can only be measured by a health practitioner during a pelvic examination.

What to Do

When you are experiencing contractions, either painful or painless, that occur more than four times an hour or are less than 15 minutes apart, you should report this activity to your physician or midwife. You should be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • When did the discomfort start?
  • What is the type and frequency of the contractions?
  • What were you doing when the symptoms began?
  • Do you have any other signs or symptoms such as:
    • menstrual-like cramps that may come and go
    • abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea
    • backache that is dull and may radiate around toward the abdomen
    • vaginal discharge increase or a noticeable change in color
    • pelvic pressure that is constant or intermittent

While waiting for your provider to return her call, you should:

  • Stop whatever activity you were doing when the contractions started
  • Lie down with your feet elevated or on your left side
  • Drink two or three glasses of water or juice since these contractions can sometimes be brought on by dehydration.

These precautions sometimes cause contractions to subside. If symptoms do not lessen within one hour and you aren't able to get in touch with your health-care provider, you should go to the nearest hospital for further evaluation.

Pre Labor

At some point, normally between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy, something still unknown changes the Braxton Hicks contractions so that they begin to soften and open the cervix, eventually leading to the baby`s birth. If contractions lead to delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy, this is considered premature or preterm labor.

Real labor

Contractions during real labor are more painful and come in a steady rhythm. True labor contractions also become closer together and the pain gets worse.

John Braxton Hicks

(1823–August 28, 1897) John Braxton Hicks was a 19th century English doctor who specialized in obstetrics. He was born in Rye, Sussex and attended Guy's Hospital Medical School from 1841.

Hicks was the first physician to describe the bipolar and other methods of the version of a fetus. In 1872, he described the uterine contractions not resulting in childbirth now known as Braxton Hicks.







Comments: Braxton Hicks contractions

Comments 1 to 24 of about 90.
1 2 3 4 Next


eightisenough - 569 days ago.
Why would u be sad? The dilation of your cervix at this point has little bearing as to how close you are to going into labor or the length of your labor. I was a labor and delivery nurse for 6 years and I have sent wen home dilated to 5 centimeters who were not contracting regularly, and have seen women who were high thick and closed pop out a baby(after some good contractions) in just a few short hours of labor! Some women walk around dilated to 3 for a month. Your baby will come, in God's time:-)

janet1972 - 569 days ago.
I went to the doctor today and I was sort of sad because I am 37 wks and I have only dialated 1cm so far. I get Braxton Hicks and even though they are not too tense but you can still feel them for sure.

Sunshinebadbear@yahoo.com - 1025 days ago.
I am 37 wks today & have been having painful cramping in my groin area so bad that I have to stop walking & hold onto something so that I don't fall...is this normal?

khendraann - 1142 days ago.
Alright, ladies..I'm 28 weeks with my second, been having menstrual cramping along with BH for the last hour that has come and gone 4-5 times. It's not unbearable pain, but it feels like I could really use a midol right now! And he is still moving around, (quite a lot actually) so I'm hesitant to call the doctor. The pain came on while I was lying on the couch about to take a nap. I've also been feeling really nauseated since last night. What do you think?

mommy1208 - 1151 days ago.
I'm 39Weeks right now, and have been having contractions or BH since about 30 weeks...but the past weeks I've been having really bad low back pain, like into my butt area rather than the back and contractions really badly during the night, but aren't really getting into a rhythm. I'm having some loose stool issues as well as this horrible pelvic pain/pressure. I suppose I could have called my doctor, but since they aren't regular contractions,and she hasnt checked my cervix the whole pregnancy , I don't think she would have me come in. I have an appointment Wednesday for week visit and I dont know what to do or think cause all my doctor tells me is, it's normal and then measures my belly and sends me on my way...does Anyone have advise for me.

kitty79 - 1228 days ago.
I am 16 weeks and have been having severe cramping and infrequent spotting. I went to the doctor 2 weeks ago and they couldnt find a reason for this. The cramping is low on my abdomen and gets so severe that I actually double over and have to get into a fetal position. I went back to the doctor this weekend for a followup and they did another ultrasound. I was having the cramping during the ultrasound and guess what they saw, a contraction occurring. They told me that my cervix is still closed so they will just be monitoring we weekly to verify no changes and I am to be on pelvic rest.. no sex, no exercise, no lifting and limited walking. But I can still work for now. I go back next week and we shall see. I have scoliosis in my lowest part of the spine where it narrows and curves and they think this might be a trigger. We shall see. Reading this at least made me feel a bit better when it said they start early in pregnancy... most of what I read said 30 weeks.

Lillie Knutter - 1233 days ago.
Hi im 32 weeks 2marrow and i just had cramps and they got stronger, and they just came and went. They started at 5:08 and lasted till 5:20pm. After all of that i just felt pressure. This is my first baby. Is that braxton hicks?

-debster- - 1277 days ago.
Mamma K, with my daughter, I had braxton hicks' for the last 2.5 months of my pregnancy. Some were very uncomfortable and others, very painful. I used to have a soak in the spa bath whenever they were too rough as with my body becoming weightless, the pain was far more bearable. This time, I'm at week 19 and they've been noticeable for a month already! So far, braxton hicks contractions are only uncomfortable and my midwife told me not to be worried. I highly recommend bathing or having a swim whenever yours get bad.. Such a relief! All the best with your little one! :)

mammaK - 1295 days ago.
I am 32 weeks pregnant and for 2 weeks I have been experience BHC can be kinda painful. I have NEVER experienced with my other 3 pregnancies.

nannyzoey - 1332 days ago.
Amy- I'm 37.5 right now, and have been having contractions or BH since about 30 weeks...but the past day I've been having really bad low back pain, like into my butt area rather than the back and contractions really badly during the night. They are between 4-15 mins, but aren't really getting into a rhythm. I'm having some loose stool issues as well as this horrible pelvic pain/pressure. I suppose I could have called my midwife, but since they aren't regular contractions, I don't think she would have me come in. I have an appointment tomorrow for my 38 week visit. I was 50percent and 1cm last time, we'll see what I am tomorrow. Perhaps if it's really bothersome for you, you should call your midwife or doctor...hang in there hun.

Amy1stTimer - 1333 days ago.
Hi im 39 weeks and have been experiencing very bad pain which i was told were BH these come every so often and are very excrutiating they last about 40 seconds and come really bad at night time.. Any advice as im worried.

alexmay88 - 1363 days ago.
Hey dont worry i experienced really bad BH when i was about 20 weeks too & they eventually subside. mine lasted a good 15 hrs was horrible...and painful as i was stretching aswell at same time. You & baby will be fine dont panick :) x

FarisMama - 1381 days ago.
hey ladies..i am 20 weeks and have been having BH for about 2 weeks now. Today I told the doc and she seemed kind of concerned..anyone else have them early and have issues? I am getting a lil concerned...

Leah0980 - 1495 days ago.
Hi Ladies! I had a pretty hard BHC last night..I'm 25 weeks along now and this is the first time I've actually felt the BHC. I have an older child (she's 10) and I remember having them with her, only it was much later in my pregnancy that I noticed it. It kind of worried me last night, so I texted my SIL to ask her about it (she works for a high risk obstetrician) and she says everything is fine as long as there is no unusual discharge or spotting that follows.

emski4000 - 1501 days ago.
hi everyone, i'm 33 weeks and am pretty sure that i have only experienced one BHC through my entire pregnancy. this happened at about 25weeks and nothing since. i am starting to worry that this means my body is not preparing to birth and i will have a long labour. anyone else not experiencing BHC? i'd especially like to hear from anyone who had no BHC and has since given birth.

kathy=^.^= - 1509 days ago.
i am 33 weeks and im really not experiencing any BHC! unless im having them and dont realize it. this is my 3rd baby and i deff. remember them with my 2nd but it seems like im just not having any. is this normal?

rachelle1210 - 1509 days ago.
Hello all I have been haviing braxton hicks contractions for the last 2 and half weeks. There getting on my nerves. I was hopping I wouldn't have to go though them in this pregnancy. I guess I was wrong!! I had them in my last 3 pregnancy's. Just something that was on my mind.

babytwingirls - 1517 days ago.
I am glad that I read this article on Braxton Hicks contractions. I've been feeling them for the past month or so, and is getting stronger, and more pressure. I never connected it with the lack of fluids, and dehydration. I am 2 days from 32 Weeks, and pregnant with identical twin girls. It seems like those last 6 Weeks will be more challenging. I have been blessed to have such a great pregnancy so far. Now, just have to endure the final stages. Good luck to all of you Moms-to-be out there. I know what you are going through. And I am glad I found this site where I can share, and get from all of you what it is like to be pregnant. Enjoy your Weekend!

butterflykisses715 - 1522 days ago.
biernacks- sounds like to me the baby is either kicking or punching you 'down there' i felt this sensation with both pregnancies..there are a lot of nerves surrounding your cervix..so when the baby moves around that area you kinda get a popping uncomfortable feeling..bh contractions are not a moving sensation..they are a still hardening feeling on your tummy...hope this helps

A.A.B - 1523 days ago.
I'm feeling weird movements that I don't believe are from the baby... I'm now 23 weeks and in the week by week description it says that women usually start to feel Braxton Hicks contractions right about now....... So I'm wondering if that's what I'm feeling?? It's not painful, just weird and uncomfortable and makes me jump a little. It's like I can feel the very bottom of my cervix moving...(where my mucus plug would be.. the narrow part.) kind of like a small jolt. Is this a contraction?? =S

mari618 - 1568 days ago.
I have been having Braxton Hicks since month two. IT SUCKS!! I am now 41/2 months far along and it happens atleast once a day. I know its perfectly normal, the only thing to do is to drink lots of water and put your feet up. Sometimes it means your dehydrated, so listen to your baby and body!

*mommytobe* - 1580 days ago.
Yeah Jo I had some at like 8 weeks and it freaked me out!! I like froze in place and was like what was that!?!? I read that they can start as early as 6 weeks. After reading that I felt much better. A lot of scary things happen lol I am always googling something or on here asking questions!! Im very thankful for this site and all the wonderful women on here!!

ƸӜƷ~JO~ƸӜƷ - 1581 days ago.
at last im nt going mad im 10wks pregnant nd have thought ive been having mild braxton hicks since 8 weeks i didnt think it was possible so soon but it is yayy im normal lol

july072710 - 1585 days ago.
I'll be 35 weeks tomorrow & I think am having a bad case of Braxton Hicks contractions... Am having some tightness in my stomach & it's painful is this normal? How will I know if these are reall contractions?

MommyOf2LittleBoys - 1585 days ago.
EllisJayne: I am sure you have been having them, you just were not aware of them. When you have that pain, feel your abd., does it feel hard? If so your having a contraction. HTH.


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