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Braxton Hicks or the Real Thing?

Pregnancy is an exciting journey filled with a multitude of changes, both physical and emotional. One of the many experiences expectant mothers encounter along the way is Braxton Hicks contractions. These feelings, often referred to as “practice contractions,” can sometimes leave women wondering: is this the real thing or just another false alarm?

Understanding Braxton Hicks Contractions

What are Braxton Hicks contractions?

They are occasional uterine contractions that begin around the second trimester of pregnancy. Unlike real labour contractions, which indicate the onset of childbirth, Braxton Hicks contractions are typically irregular and do not lead to cervical dilation.

When do they typically occur?

They can occur as early as the second trimester but are most commonly experienced in the third trimester. Some women may not notice them at all, while others may find them uncomfortable or even painful.

What do they feel like?

They are often described as a tightening or squeezing sensation in the abdomen. They may come and go unpredictably and usually subside with rest or a change in activity.

Distinguishing Braxton Hicks from Real Labour

Understanding the differences between Braxton Hicks contractions and real labour contractions is important for expectant mothers.

Characteristics of Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions are typically:

  • Irregular in frequency
  • Do not increase in intensity over time
  • Often felt only in the front of the abdomen

Signs of Real labour contractions

On the other hand, real labour contractions:

  • Follow a regular pattern and become progressively closer together
  • Increase in intensity over time
  • Are often accompanied by other signs of labour, such as the release of the mucus plug or the rupture of the amniotic sac

Also Read: Braxton Hicks Contractions: Braxton Hicks Contractions – Information from the NHS about the differences between Braxton Hicks contractions and real labour.

Causes of Braxton Hicks Contractions

Several factors can trigger false labour, including:

Managing Braxton Hicks Contractions

While they are usually harmless, they can be uncomfortable. Here are some tips for managing them:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Take frequent breaks and rest when needed.
  • Change positions or try gentle stretches to alleviate discomfort.

When to Call the Doctor

While they are a normal part of pregnancy, there are times when they may indicate a problem. It’s essential to seek medical advice if you experience:

  • Severe or persistent abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • A decrease in foetal movement

Preparing for Labour

As your due date approaches, it’s essential to know when it’s the real thing. Keep your hospital bag packed and ready to go, so you’re prepared for labour at any time.

Experiencing Real Labour

When real labour begins, it typically progresses through several stages:

  1. Early labour: Contractions become regular and increase in intensity.
  2. Active labour: The cervix dilates more rapidly, and contractions become stronger and closer together.
  3. Transition: The final stage of labour before pushing begins.
  4. Pushing and delivery: The baby is born!

Navigating the journey of pregnancy can be both exciting and daunting, especially for first-time mothers. By understanding the difference between False labour and real labour, expectant parents can feel more confident and prepared for the arrival of their little one.

Remember, every pregnancy is unique, and if you have any concerns or questions about your contractions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance and reassurance.


What triggers Braxton Hicks contractions?

They can be triggered by dehydration, physical activity, or changes in the uterus.

How can I ease the discomfort of Braxton Hicks?

Drinking water, resting, and changing positions can help alleviate the discomfort.

Can Braxton Hicks lead to preterm labour?

While they are usually harmless, it’s essential to seek medical advice if you experience any signs of preterm labour.

How can I differentiate between false labour and the real thing?

False labour contractions, like Braxton Hicks, are irregular and do not lead to cervical dilation. Real labour contractions follow a regular pattern and become progressively closer together.

What are some signs that labour is approaching?

Signs that labour is approaching include the release of the mucus plug, the rupture of the amniotic sac, and the onset of regular, increasingly intense contractions.

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