Braxton Hicks Contractions vs Real Labor


One common issue women experience when they are pregnant is Braxton Hicks contractions. These usually occur close to the end of a pregnancy, so it is sometimes difficult to determine whether you are having Braxton Hicks Contractions or are in true labor. Here is some information to help you determine the difference.

Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions are most noticeable starting in the second trimester. However, they actually begin occurring much sooner than this. Doctors believe that they help to move fluids and blood throughout the woman’s body. They are caused when estrogen levels rise.

Usually, these types of contractions last for between 30 and 60 seconds. They also are intermittent and don’t normally develop into a pattern. Another characteristic of Braxton Hicks contractions is that they usually don’t increase in intensity. Instead, they stay about the same when they occur.

While some women only experience minor contractions with Braxton Hicks, others experience extremely strong ones. Both of these types of contractions are normal and are not cause for concern.


Labor Pains

When you go into actual labor, there are several differences from Braxton Hicks contractions. For starters, it is common for a woman’s water to break before she begins labor or for her mucus plug to pass.

When labor contractions do begin, they will not be intermittent. Instead, they will develop a pattern that will become closer and closer together. As a woman gets closer to the time she will actually give birth, her contractions will become more intense as well.

Another difference between Braxton Hicks and labor contractions is that you won’t be able to relieve the pain by changing positions. With Braxton Hicks, this is actually an option. Some women have found relief when they stand or sit in a certain position. However, with true labor pains, this will not be an option. The pain will remain the same regardless of the position you are in.

These are all some of the differences you may notice when it comes to true labor pains and Braxton Hicks. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to tell sometimes which type of contraction you are having. The best way to make sure you are healthy and safe is to talk to your doctor. You can discuss your symptoms and come up with a plan regarding when to head to the hospital.

If you ever believe you are in danger or that the pain you are feeling is abnormal, take a trip to the ER. Many women wind up going to the ER when they are having Braxton Hicks contractions, so you will definitely not be alone. In the end, it is better to be seen by a doctor than be in true labor and not realize it.

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