Braxton Hicks Contractions


What is Braxton hicks contraction

After 6 weeks of pregnancy, sporadic uterine contractions can occur which is termed as Braxton Hicks contractions. The symptoms of this condition are not properly understandable at the initial onset. Pregnant women can observe it at second trimester, but some are totally unaware of this.

pregnancy uterus womb Braxton hicks contraction

Image 1 – Pregnancy normal structures and functions


The name of the condition is based on inventor clinician John Braxton Hicks who discovered this in 1872. Braxton Hicks contractions are frequent at the later stage of the pregnancy and remain at the last few weeks. In early stage, the sign is not distinguishable.

Self diagnosis is strictly not recommended. If the contractions rate is high that means 4 contractions in one hour and pregnancy is less that 37 weeks then immediate medical assistance is required.

The onset of Braxton Hicks contractions starts within the last stage of second trimester, and most frequent at the third trimester. This is happened as during last few weeks of pregnancy, some anatomical changes are automatically take place like the cervix begin to soften to promote easy labor and frequent contractions may occur which leads to dilation and thinning of cervix and arises some discomfort. This condition is also referred as pre-labor condition.

What do braxton hicks contractions feel like?

During Braxton Hicks contraction, infrequently lower abdominal region including uterus and groin become compressed and constricted. This do not produce continuous pain, but causes discomforts and rarely sharp pain is felt.

Braxton hicks Vs real contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions is also termed as false labor, as the due date of delivery is near, then Braxton Hicks contractions become regular and comparatively similar as labor. This often mislead as labor pain, but this contraction do not stay for longer time nor that much intense like labor pain.

Braxton Hicks Contractions Vs Real contractions

Image 2 – Braxton hicks contraction Vs Real contractions

Specific characteristics of the Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • The rate of contraction is infrequent and less in number may be it will be one or two per hour.
  • The postural change or change of activity cause stoppage of contraction, it is advisable that change your posture like sitting mode to walking mode or standing mode to sitting mode.
  • The duration of contraction is less may be for few seconds to a minutes
  • Intensity of contraction is less
  • Nature of the contraction is irregular and non-rhythmic.
  • With increasing time the pain is reduced
  • Pain is located at the front or lower abdominal region.

Specific characteristics of the labor contractions are:

  • The contraction is perceptibly, prolonged and intensity is increases
  • Contraction is regular
  • The rate of contraction is frequent
  • Intensity of the pain is more
  • With increasing time the pain become more steady
  • The pain is commences from the lower back side and gradually move towards frontal part of the lower abdomen or pain started from lower abdomen to move towards lower back side.

Pre-labour Braxton Hicks contractions are beneficial as it provides the alteration and ripening of the cervix which helps to provide indication of pregnancy is going on in a proper direction. Braxton Hicks contractions help to produce passage for baby to come out from the womb.

Causes

Different gynaecologist and midwives provide their views regarding the onset of Braxton Hicks contractions. As per their thoughts Braxton Hicks contractions helps in adjusting the uterine muscle to provide sufficient toning during pregnancy. This also helps to maintain the blood circulation to the placenta.

Braxton Hicks contractions also help to make softer the cervix, though they are not beneficial for dilating the cervix. The intensity of the Braxton Hicks contractions is more as the due date comes nearer, as it promotes effacement process.

Triggering factors

  • When the mother or foetus are very active.
  • Touching of the abdomen of the pregnant women
  • Urinary bladder is filled up
  • After sexual intercourse
  • Dehydration

Symptoms of Braxton Hicks contraction

The symptoms of Braxton Hicks contraction do not stay for longer period of time. Following are the symptoms associated with Braxton Hicks contraction:

  • Does not possess regular intensity, sometime it is mild or sometimes it is sharp.
  • Sudden onset
  • Irregular
  • Impulsive
  • Providing discomfort
  • Intensity is not increases with time

Steps to control Braxton Hicks contractions

It is well known that Braxton Hicks contractions is common in pregnancy and it will intense and may produce pain just some days before the due date. This can produce discomfort. The following steps help to lessen the discomfort:

  • Antenatal training
  • Breathing exercise
  • Need posture change
  • Avoid to carry heavy luggage
  • Warm bath also improve the pain, but avoid taking excessive hot compression.
  • Drink plenty of fluid to avoid dehydration
  • During the contraction warm herbal tea help to relax.

References

  1. What if Braxton Hicks contractions become painful? at http://www.babycentre.co.uk/braxton-hicks-contractions#ixzz3pw95hjuG
  2. Braxton Hicks Contractions: Causes and Treatment at http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/braxton-hicks/
  3. http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/true-false-labor

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