Am i having Braxton Hicks Contractions

The final weeks of pregnancy are exciting, as well as being a nerve-wracking time. Going into labor is an exhilarating but apprehensive time. The initial and most recognizable sign of labor is when contractions start. This can leave the parents-to-be excited, as they prepare to meet their newborn baby. However, doubts can arise with many expectant mothers as to whether they are really in labor. In the later weeks of pregnancy Braxton-Hicks contractions can occur which are thought to be practice contractions, and not the start of labor.

How can you tell if you are having Braxton-Hicks contraction?

• What are Braxton-Hicks contractions?

Braxton-Hicks contractions are practice contractions that help to prepare the body for labor. They are different to real contractions, as the intensity is lower, and they are more uncomfortable rather than painful. Braxton-Hicks contractions are like a tightening ripple that can be felt across the abdomen. As they are not painful it can make many wonder if they are really in labor. They often come in irregular waves and they may subside after a time. If the contractions do not intensify or get closer together they are likely to be Braxton-Hicks contractions.

• What are real labor contractions?

Real contractions are painful tightening waves that occur across the abdomen. Contractions will intensify in strength and frequency and last longer each time, and they will become closer in time. Start to time contractions to determine if they are real or just practice contractions. If contractions start to become closer together, and intensify it is likely labor has started. Follow the instructions that have been provided from your caregiver. Ensure to practice breathing, and find a comfortable position.

• The difference between Braxton-Hicks and real contractions

Braxton-Hicks contractions shouldn’t be painful, and they occur in an irregular pattern. They can often leave mother-to-be wondering if she is really in labor, as Braxton-Hicks are not intense or painful. Another way to determine if they are Braxton-Hicks is that there will be no rhythm to them, and they will be infrequent and irregular and eventually subside.  Whereas when real contractions start the feeling will be more intense and have mom-to-be gasp for breath. The strength of contractions will intensify, and they will become closer together in time.

In either instance take a warm bath to help relax the mind and body, whilst helping to soothe and ease any discomfort. Time the contractions to determine whether they are real, and when they are getting closer together it is time to make your way to the delivery suite. If you are experiencing Braxton-Hicks contraction, and they subside without any other symptoms there is nothing to worry about. However, should any other symptoms occur then call your doctor or midwife.