You are 32 weeks pregnant

Day-to-day tasks are probably becoming difficult, so bending to put your socks on or getting in and out of a car become comical. Pedicured toenails are somewhere in the distant non-pregnant past.

By this stage in pregnancy your baby’s five senses, touch, smell, taste, hearing and seeing are all fully functioning and taking in the strange world of the womb. Noises from your stomach gurgle close by, colours change rapidly as the light outside changes the light in the womb and the comforting sound of your voice floats in to your baby.

You may notice your lower abdomen tightening from now onwards as your body practises Braxton Hick’s contractions in preparation for actual contractions.

According to midwife Alison Brown, the definition of a contraction is 'regular painful tightening of the uterus /womb that lead to thinning out (effacement) and opening up (dilatation) of the neck of the womb.'

The foetus is thereby pushed toward the birth canal. One of the first signs that you're in labour is that you'll experience what is known as a contraction. There are three phases of labour; early labour, active labour and hard labour. Read The stages of labour to learn more about each stage.

Braxton Hicks contractions can occur earlier on in pregnancy and shouldn't be confused with genuine contractions. Brown comments that there are clear differences between the different types of contractions; whereas 'labour contractions tend to be nice and regular and all the same strength, Braxton Hicks tend to be irregular and whereas some are strong, others are not so strong.'

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. If you think you are in labour, or are confused about Braxton Hicks, it is best to call your midwife if you think you are having either Braxton Hicks contractions or real contractions.

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