What are Braxton Hicks?

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What are Braxton Hicks contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions are the tightening and relaxation of the uterus in pregnancy that may start towards the middle of your pregnancy, or sometimes earlier. Some mums say they feel a slight tightening across their tummies and others find them quite unpleasant. When you feel them, practice your breathing techniques if you need to. Not sure if you're having Braxton Hicks contractions? Get in touch with your midwife or give our expert Careline team a call.

What do Braxton Hicks contractions feel like?

Braxton Hicks can cause some discomfort but shouldn't be painful. Towards the end of your pregnancy they might feel uncomfortable, especially if your baby is getting into the head-down position.

You'll know if you're going in to labour, rather than experiencing Braxton Hicks, because your contractions will usually get closer to each other (but still with a steady pattern) and last for longer. If the contractions are in fact Braxton Hicks, they will not have a steady pattern and will wear off.

Remember, if you're ever in doubt, please contact your midwife.

When do Braxton Hicks start?

Braxton Hicks usually start around the middle of your pregnancy and can sometimes be felt as early as 16 weeks. Believe it or not, your uterus has been contracting on and off gently since about seven weeks, but you won’t have been able to feel it.

Coping with Braxton Hicks

If you find your Braxton Hicks uncomfortable, you should contact your midwife or doctor. But it could simply be down to doing too much. Try sitting or lying down on your side. Listening to music may also help you to relax. If that doesn't work, try gently moving around a bit or relaxing in a warm bath. It's also possible that you're a little dehydrated, so remember to drink plenty of water.

If you'd like to know more about labour and birth, why not give our experts a call on 0800 977 8880 or ask us a question online, instantly, using Live Chat Monday to Friday, 8am - 8pm.

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