Braxton Hicks contractions: what is it and how to identify?

Many people associate contractions immediately with labor. However, what few know is that this symptom may be present many weeks before the baby is born. These are Braxton Hicks contractions or training contractions.

This condition was first described in 1872 by a gynecologist specializing in obstetrics called John Braxton Hicks – so they are called Braxton Hicks contractions.

They do not indicate that the woman is going into labor and have some more specific characteristics. Therefore, when feeling them, the woman is able to differentiate if it is really the time of the baby’s birth or if it is only her body training for that moment.

In the text below, we explain how to identify Braxton Hicks contractions. Check out!


What are Braxton Hicks contractions or training?

Braxton Hicks contractions, known as false contractions or training, are a kind of simulation of the uterus for the movements that precede delivery, in the final stretch of pregnancy.

They happen in the uterus and make the abdomen muscles more stiff, painless and do not cause great discomfort in the pregnant woman. Some women compare this symptom to menstrual cramps.

It is a common condition and can arise from the 28th week of gestation, at the beginning of the last trimester. Some women, however, may still have them in the second trimester, after 20 weeks of gestation.

Remembering that they do not mean premature labor , as they are not contractions that make an expulsion movement. In addition, in this condition, there is no rupture of the bag or dilation of the vaginal canal.

They are not a cause for concern for the pregnant woman, as it is a common and expected condition during pregnancy. That is, there is no need for treatment to stop them.

Some factors can cause or make the contractions stronger, such as intense physical activity, sexual intercourse, dehydration or the baby moving in the womb.

In some cases, resting, taking short walks or changing positions already helps to improve discomfort.

If the woman experiences severe pain, bleeding or any other atypical symptom, she should seek medical help urgently.

How does Braxton Hicks’ contractions feel?

In general, Braxton Hicks contractions do not cause pain, but they do cause some signs that allow the pregnant woman to identify the condition. Knowing this is important so that the woman is not worried, keeping in mind that this symptom can happen.

Before rushing to the emergency, you should check for some common signs of training contractions. Are they:

  • There are long and irregular spaces between one contraction and the other;
  • They occur few times a day;
  • The contractions are no longer intense or painful over time;
  • The duration of the contractions is short – from 30 seconds to a maximum of 2 minutes;
  • They usually stop when the pregnant woman changes positions (when getting up, sitting, walking or even drinking a little water);
  • They are uncomfortable, but they do not usually cause pain;
  • They are more located on the front of the abdomen and pelvis.

How long does training contraction last?

The training contractions last, approximately, between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, with irregular intervals. They may be more common after the practice of more intense physical activities, in the afternoon and evening.

Therefore, if the woman is feeling the contractions of Braxton Hicks, the ideal is to avoid the practice of activities that require great physical effort.

When to see a doctor?

A pregnant woman with Braxton Hicks contractions should be alert to some symptoms. Therefore, it is important to see a doctor when you experience or have any of the following conditions:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (with strong odor or yellow, green, brown color, etc.);
  • Vaginal bleeding;
  • Contractions with regular and more intense intervals over time;
  • Intense abdominal pain.

Braxton Hicks contractions are training the uterus for actual childbirth. They usually occur between the end of the second trimester and the beginning of the third trimester, causing discomfort similar to that caused by menstrual cramps.

If the pregnant woman feels severe pain, bleeds or any other abnormal symptom, she should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

To learn more about pregnancy, keep following the articles here at Hickey solution.