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Pregnant women will encounter Braxton hicks contractions at some point in their lives before childbirth. The phrase is used to refer to contraction that is irregular and painless during pregnancy. It’s a phrase that was first described by a doctor named John Braxton Hicks in 1872.
These contractions are normally experienced in the 6th week of a pregnancy. But at this point, they are so mild that it will be hard for a first time would-be mom to sense them. However, as the pregnancy approaches its second trimester, the contractions become more apparent.
How will I know the difference between Braxton hicks contractions and labor contractions?
These contractions feel very similar to what happens when a woman is having labor contractions. And because of that, it can be hard for a first-time would-be mom to tell the difference, hence they may assume they are almost getting into labor.
However, it’s important that a would-be mother should learn the difference between the two contractions to avoid unnecessary panic before date of delivery.
And to tell the difference, it’s important to remember that labor contractions are rhythmic, and may be accompanied by increased frequency and intensity. On the flip side, Braxton hicks contractions will vary in both frequency and intensity.
But when a woman is within 2 to 3 weeks into their delivery date, these contractions will seem to follow close together and regularly. This can cause panic, and the best course of action would be to call a health care provider to determine whether or not the woman in question is experiencing labor contractions.
What should I do in the event that these contractions are painful?
It is very likely that you will experience painful contractions in the last few weeks of your due date. Fortunately, a number of remedies exist to help you relieve painful Braxton hicks contractions. These include the following:Pregnancy week by week
(a) A warm bath
A warm shower is the best relaxation medicine you can take during pregnancy. A warm bath has been known to relax body tissues, and by so doing, the frequency and intensity of these contractions are reduced.
Workout is extremely important for pregnant women. Even if you’re not having any painful contractions, there are certain workouts you need to perform in your health routine to stay healthy.
Therefore, because of this need, it emerges that certain relaxation exercises are helpful for women who are experiencing painful Braxton hicks contractions.
In as much as good exercise will not prevent these contractions from taking place, it will make you cope with the situation in a way that doesn’t interfere with your overall life. You can try deep breathing among other relaxation techniques taught in childbirth preparation classes.
(c) Hydrate yourself
Doctors have confirmed that these contractions may be aggravated when the body is dehydrated. So if you’ve not taken enough fluids in the past few days, you should make it a priority to take a few glasses of water each day.
(d) Alter your position and activity
It should be noted that labor pains will persist regardless of what you do to ease them. However, Braxton hicks contractions will ease down when you take part in activities, i.e walking a short distance every while, or even talking a rest to relax your mind.
Does it mean something is wrong when I am not experiencing Braxton hicks contractions?
Because of the mild nature of these contractions, some women won’t even feel or know that they are feeling them. This is very common with women who are nursing pregnancies for the first time.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that regardless of how less frequent you’re feeling them or failing to realize them, your pregnancy will always be safe.
So far, no scientific evidence has been published to prove that lack of Braxton hicks contractions is an indication of problems with a pregnancy.
Furthermore, research has not indicated that less contractions could be used to determine the state of the fetus in the womb. Therefore, the bottom line is that whether you’re feeling them frequently, less frequently or not feeling them at all, your pregnancy will be safe for as long as your healthcare provider confirms it.
At what point should I call a healthcare provider?
Now that everything should be taken with no cause of alarm, does it mean you should sit back and relax even if things are getting worse? Certainly not — and you should use your judgement to distinguish what is normal from what isn’t normal.
If you’ve not yet hit your 37th week and these contractions are becoming more apparent, i.e more frequent, rhythmic and even painful, you should call your caregiver or midwife for advice.
The following situations may also prompt you to call your doctor as soon as you notice them:
(a) Vaginal spotting or bleeding.
(b) Experiencing more than 4 contractions within a span of one hour (even if these contractions aren’t painful).
(c) A change in vaginal discharge. Discharge may become mucusy, watery or spotted with blood stains. Whichever the case, this may signal the presence of an underlying problem.
(d) When you feel that there is more pressure towards your pelvic region due to the fact that the baby is moving to the lower region of the womb.
(e) If you’re experiencing lower back pain when you’ve not had such a problem in your life before.
Those signs should raise a red flag and even make you call your caregiver for further assistance.
If your pregnancy is already 37 weeks old, you shouldn’t call your caregiver in the event that you’re experiencing Braxton hicks contractions.
By now, you’ve learned about what looks normal and what doesn’t feel normal. So rely on your instincts as well as what your doctor is saying. Also, check out if you’re passing any blood or amniotic fluid. This should prompt a checkup anyway.
Generally, these contractions aren’t painful. If, for any reason your Braxton hicks contractions are painful, you should try the remedies stated above. But if you notice something sinister, you should definitely take an extra step to address the matter in the hands of your doctor.