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Braxton-Hicks vs Real Labor Contractions

Sep 28, 2022

During the second or third trimester, false labor contractions called Braxton Hicks may happen as the uterus practices before labor, however, these contractions will not lead to delivery.

The main difference between Braxton-Hicks and real labor contractions is that Braxton-Hicks are not coordinated and travel through the whole area of the uterus, they may feel like the abdomen tightening on a particular area. While the real labor contractions start from the top region of the uterus, move through the middle, and then to the lower part. Real labor contractions happen during cervix dilation and effacement which helps for pushing your baby through your vaginal opening. 

Reasons for Braxton-Hicks contractions 

Dehydration is the main reason for false labor contractions, the Braxton-Hicks. Such contractions may get suppressed if you are rehydrated.

The movements of your fetus may also trigger Braxton-Hicks. If you have more movements, it may cause this false labor contraction. Even your activities like working for a long time, and lifting more weight may bring on Braxton-Hicks contraction. This is the reason why doctors advise you to rest more often without working hard than normal during the third trimester of pregnancy. 

Having sexual intercourse may also produce false contraction pain because your body secretes a hormone called oxytocin after orgasm, where this hormone makes uterus muscles contract. Even your partner’s semen contains prostaglandins, which may also bring about contractions. 

In addition to these reasons, your pregnancy hormones may send signals to your body to gradually start the process of childbirth delivery.

Sometimes drinking more fluid, resting, or changing your position can help to reduce these false labor pains.

These are the signs of Braxton-Hicks contractions:

  • Slight pain makes you discomfort
  • Irregular frequency between contractions
  • The length between each contraction doesn’t decrease
  • Pain and contractions don’t get much stronger
  • Contractions ease up and disappear shortly

What do true labor contractions feel like?

True labor contractions usually occur during the third trimester after 37 weeks, moreover near your due date. For some reason, they may occur before 37 weeks of pregnancy which is said to be preterm labor. You should consult your doctor or midwife immediately, they will assist you further depending on your expected date of delivery (EDD).

The feeling of contraction is different for every woman, even from pregnancy to pregnancy. Labor contractions gradually increase causing more pain and discomfort in your back and lower abdomen. Your pelvic region may feel more pressurized which causes pain throughout your leg. Some women describe true labor contractions pain as strong menstrual cramps experienced for more hours till delivery.

Some of the signs of true labor contractions are-

  • Pain gradually increases intensely
  • Intervals between each contractions decreases
  • Contractions happen at regular intervals and last longer
  • Continues stronger, despite changing positions

How to measure the count and duration of contractions

Contractions are tightening of the uterus muscles preparing for labor and childbirth. To measure the contractions count, you may install and use the pregnancy tracker app. These apps help to record the count and duration of contractions you are undergoing.

  • Start from the new contraction. Check for the abdomen tightening and record this count as the duration of one contraction
  • Continue until the next contraction occurs
  • Record the interval between every two contractions
  • Repeat this process for an hour

If you have contractions every 15 minutes lasting for an hour, it means you are approaching labor very soon.


Related: Stages of Normal Vaginal Delivery

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How to Increase the Chances of Normal Delivery?

Childbirth is an amazing turning point in every woman’s life. Mostly, every pregnant woman expects to give birth to their baby through a normal delivery.

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