Braxton Hicks Contractions: Not to Be Mistaken for Labor

Braxton Hicks contractions, named after John Braxton Hicks, an English doctor who first described them in 1872, are intermittent uterine contractions that start in early pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, these contractions may occur more often, but until you get to your last few weeks, they’ll probably remain irregular and painless. They can be related to the tightening of the abdomen, which is caused by the uterus contracting and relaxing to prepare for the childbirth. When the contractions increase in frequency and intensity near the end of the pregnancy, they are often mistaken for labor. It is, therefore, important to calm your nerves when you feel false contractions and call your gynecologist. In this blog post, we discuss more about Braxton Hicks contractions, starting with how they are different from labor. Read on.

Difference Between Braxton Hicks Contractions and Labor

In the days or weeks shortly before real labor, Braxton Hicks contractions can become relatively rhythmic and even painful, fooling you into thinking you’re in labor. But unlike labor, contractions during false labor usually don’t grow consistently stronger, longer, and closer together. Although Braxton Hicks contractions can happen any time,  expectant mothers often notice them at night, when they’re dehydrated or have a full bladder, and during physical activity or sex.

What to do if the contractions are discomforting?

Braxton Hicks contractions usually don’t cause much pain, but can be significantly discomforting. To ease the discomfort, you should change your current activity or position. In some cases, walking may provide relief; in others, resting might ease the contractions. One can also try having some water because these contractions can also be caused by dehydration. Other ways to relieve the discomfort include relaxation exercises and taking slow and deep breaths. If the mother is in the third trimester, they can also enroll in childbirth and parental education classes, where they will learn about pain-management strategies that can be used during Braxton Hicks.

What to do if the pain doesn’t subside?

If you haven’t reached 37 weeks of pregnancy and the contractions are getting more painful, rhythmic, and frequent, call your gynecologist in Gurgaon or anywhere else in India, or head to the nearest maternity hospital or clinic. In addition, you should consult your gynecologist if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Menstrual-like cramping
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Regular contractions (minimum six per hour, or every 10 mins)
  • Vaginal discharge especially if it is watery, bloody, or looks like mucus
  • Acute lower back pain
  • Excessive pressure in pelvic and lower abdomen area

In true labor, the contractions will come at regular intervals, last for 30 to 90 seconds, get steadily stronger, and gradually increase in frequency. If you’re past 37 weeks of pregnancy, ask your gynecologist when you should call to let them know you are having contractions.

Read Related: The Significance of Regular Gynaecologist Consultations During Teenage

What to do when the water breaks?

Call your doctor immediately or rush to the hospital if your water breaks (even if you aren’t having contractions), you have constant and unbearable pain, and your contractions are coming every five minutes. Remember, there is no need to panic as all these symptoms are natural and indications of real labor.

Last Word

Pregnancy is a beautiful phase of life that prepares you for the upcoming responsibilities and happiness but on the other hand, you have to be more concerned and careful about your health as soon as you get the good news. If you are looking for the top gynecologists in Gurgaon, Meddo, India’s first clinic aggregator, has got you covered. To book an appointment with gynecologists near you, click here. If you have any questions, write to us at or simply call +91-87-5200-5200.

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