Braxton Hicks contractions
|Braxton Hicks contractions|
|Other names||Practice contractions|
Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as practice contractions, are sporadic uterine contractions that may start around six weeks into a pregnancy. However, they are usually felt in the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
Signs and symptoms
Braxton Hicks contractions are often infrequent, irregular, and involve only mild cramping. These intermittent uterine contractions usually occur every 10 to 20 minutes, also known as false labour. They are easily distinguished from true labor contractions because they do not increase in frequency, duration, or intensity. They may also lessen, disappear, and then reappear in the future. As the end of a pregnancy approaches, Braxton Hicks contractions tend to become more frequent and more intense. They do not cause cervical dilation or lead to birth.
Braxton Hicks contractions are a tightening of the uterine muscles for one to two minutes and are thought to be an aid to the body in its preparation for birth. Not all expectant mothers feel these contractions. They are not thought to be part of the process of effacement of the cervix.
- Dehydration can make muscles spasm, bringing on a contraction, and is thought to be a factor in extended Braxton Hicks contractions. Adequate hydration can alleviate Braxton Hicks contractions.
- Rhythmic breathing may alleviate the discomfort of Braxton Hicks contractions.
- Lying down on the left side can help ease the pain of contractions.
- A slight change in movement sometimes makes the contractions disappear.
- A full bladder can sometimes trigger Braxton Hicks, so urination may end the contractions.
Braxton Hicks contractions are named after John Braxton Hicks, the English physician who first described them. In 1872, he investigated the later stages of pregnancy and noted that many women felt contractions without being near birth. These contractions were usually painless but caused women confusion as to whether or not they were going into actual labour, what is now referred to as false labour.
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