As a pregnant mum’s due date draws nearer, the dread for labour pains can grow stronger. But that feeling of discomfort does not automatically equate to labour pains. For one, it could be Braxton Hicks contractions.
Here’s what you need to know about this pre-labour pain before you say “This is it!”
What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
Also known as “false labour pains,” Braxton Hicks contractions are your body’s way of preparing you for the true labour pain. But don’t get confused. Having Braxton Hicks contractions do not mean you’re about to give birth already. They usually happen around the second to third trimester of your pregnancy and may continue to occur as your pregnancy progresses. They are characterised by the tightening of the muscles of your uterus for 30 to 60 seconds.
The term was coined in 1872 by English doctor John Braxton Hicks to eliminate the confusion between these contractions and the real ones.
What triggers Braxton Hicks contractions?
These contractions are perfectly normal so there’s nothing to worry about. But since your body is trying to get acquainted with the process of childbirth, it’s starting to release pregnancy hormones that cause these contractions. Other activities that could trigger it are:
- When the mum and the baby are active
- When your bladder is full
- When you’re tired
- When you’re dehydrated
- When you’ve just had sex
What do they feel like?
They are menstrual-like contractions of your abdomen that come and go. But to differentiate them from true labour pain, Braxton Hicks contractions are:
- Usually painless, but uncomfortable
- Have irregular intensity
- Usually begin from the top of your uterine muscles and continue downwards
- Stop when you change your position or activity
How to deal with the uneasiness
To help you deal with these uncomfortable contractions, try doing the following:
- Change your position. Try standing if you’re lying down or walk around when you’ve been sitting for a long time
- Hydrate. Drink more water to avoid dehydration
- Take a warm bath
- Relax. Take slow, deep breaths or do some relaxation exercises
Watch this video to know more about Braxton Hicks contractions: