Braxton Hicks contractions are, in effect, rehearsal contractions. Your body is getting the uterus ready for labour and your uterus may sporadically contract its muscles from about 20 weeks of pregnancy onwards or maybe earlier, if you have already had a pregnancy.

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Although possibly a little uncomfortable, these contractions should not be painful. You will feel your uterus tighten and then relax. They do not usually last for a long time, perhaps a minute or so and they are also different to real contractions because they are very un-rhythmic and stop and start very randomly.

Real contractions become consistent and are stronger. Although you may worry that you won’t be able to tell the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and the real thing, you will!  As your pregnancy proceeds, and certainly by the eighth or ninth month, you will probably start to feel them growing in intensity.

In fact, it can be difficult to distinguish late Braxton Hicks contractions from real contractions you might experience were you to go into premature labour. As a guide, if you have any pain with them or they become fairly regular, (maybe three every hour), or if you have unusual vaginal discharge or lower back pain, ensure that you report to your midwife immediately, as these could be signs of premature labour.

If you think you are feeling Braxton Hicks contractions or you want to chat to other mums about labour, have a look at our chat forum. 

The information in this feature is intended for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health, the health of your child or the health of someone you know, please consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.

 

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