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Braxton Hicks Contractions in Pregnancy

A complex of symptoms similar to real contractions is called Braxton-Hicks or training contractions. This designation is associated with the name of the English scientist who first discovered the symptom. He studied women in late pregnancy and noticed that they experienced contractions long before delivery.

Braxton Hicks contractions do not occur in all women. The main difference from real contractions is that training ones do not lead to the opening of the cervix. The cause of the symptom is not fully understood. It is believed that they serve as preparation for childbirth. Their task is to shorten and soften the cervix.

When Braxton Hicks Contractions Start in Pregnancy?

Training contractions are typical for the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. They can start suddenly and just as suddenly pass. Braxton Hicks contractions most often appear in the 20th week of pregnancy and are accompanied by very similar prenatal symptoms that women perceive as the beginning of labor.


The symptom was recorded in pregnant women after the 20th week. He can first catch a woman in the 21st week. There were cases of the appearance of false contractions at the 28th and 39th weeks. Training contractions occur more regularly between the 20th and 30th weeks. Most likely after them, there will be real contractions.

Braxton Hicks Contractions pregnancy weeks

When will it end?

The symptoms of Braxton Hicks contractions are quite irregular. They can appear during the day, repeat several times over an unsynchronized amount of time, and disappear completely. It is noticed that Braxton-Hicks contractions appear after the 28th – 30th week less often or completely stop. The longer the gestation period, the less likely the occurrence of false contractions.

How Braxton Hicks Contractions Feel?

Strong pain during Braxton-Hicks contractions should not be. The woman feels the contraction of the uterus, which gives her discomfort. These are sensations of strong constriction, concentrated in one of the lower parts of the abdomen. Sometimes pulling painful feelings are localized in the lumbar region. Symptoms are irregular and non-rhythmic.


False contractions are more painful in acute form. The woman feels a strong compression and tension in the groin and lower abdomen. Such contractions can last up to 1 minute and randomly repeat for 4-6 hours.


Training contractions in a mild form are distinguished by a less tangible feeling of uterine contraction. It is localized in one of the areas of the abdomen. Their duration is up to 30 seconds. Contractions may recur no sooner than after 4-5 hours or no longer disturb.

Remember that Braxton Hicks contractions are not accompanied by other symptoms similar to labor.

How to tell Braxton Hicks contractions from real contractions?

For women who have previously given birth and felt false contractions, it is very easy to distinguish them from real ones. Young and inexperienced pregnant women are more difficult in this matter. Women who are pregnant for the first time often confuse Braxton-Hicks contractions with real contractions and begin to panic and call an ambulance.

Consider the main differences between Braxton Hicks contractions and true ones.

No severe pain

There will be no strong and girdle pain in the abdomen with false contractions. The woman feels a constriction but not a sharp pain. Feelings are similar to the first days of menstruation. Painful feelings are aching but quite tolerable.

The real fights are getting bigger. Painful sensations with them increase with each new episode. False contractions are characterized by persistently unpleasant feelings of constriction.

Pass Easily

Braxton Hicks contractions may go away after changing positions, calming down, or after relaxing exercises. This doesn’t happen with real fights. They disappear only after delivery and nothing can reduce their manifestation. The intensity of sensations is one of the differences between false contractions and real ones. Prenatal contractions never just disappear.


False contractions do not have a clear regularity and a certain rhythm. Between them, there is no specific time interval that would be repeated. Normal contractions appear at least 5 times per hour, maintaining a certain interval between episodes.

False contractions may appear, then disappear and return after 6 hours. Their duration is also always different. Training contractions are spontaneous, non-rhythmic, and chaotic.

Why Braxton Hicks Contractions Occur in Pregnancy?

Short-term contractions of the muscles of the uterus and an increase in its tone do not have clear scientifically proven reasons. There are the most probable and reasonable hypothesized causes of such symptoms. These primarily include hormonal changes in the mother’s body.

The activity of the uterus increases in response to hormonal surges. Her muscles contract and she seems to turn to stone. This effect is of great interest to researchers. Most of them associate this with the natural process of preparing the body of the expectant mother for the upcoming birth.

Since Braxton-Hicks contractions are not typical for all women, they occur only when physiologically necessary. For example, if there is a need to shorten or soften the cervix.


Braxton Hicks contractions are not at all dangerous to the fetus and the health of the mother. You can do nothing when they appear. Symptoms do not require any treatment, hospitalization, or extreme measures. If the discomfort is too unbearable for you, there are several methods to alleviate it. Here is an example of several ways to alleviate the symptoms of false contractions:

Warm shower

Try a warm bath or shower if your Braxton Hicks contractions are intense and you can’t stand them. This procedure relaxes, reduces muscle tension, and relieves symptoms. The water must not be hot. A jet of warm water can be directed to the abdomen and lower back.

Correct body position

You can take a comfortable position lying on your left side with a strong manifestation of false contractions. This will slightly relieve the pressure inside the abdomen, and reduce soreness and aching feelings. You must be comfortable. You can wrap your legs around a pregnancy pillow or a plain pillow.

The side-lying position significantly reduces the symptoms of false contractions. The woman relaxes, calms down and the contractions fade away.


You can alleviate your condition by walking when contractions do not hinder movement. It should be slow and smooth walking without overcoming pain. Choose a pace that is comfortable for you. Slow walks in the fresh air with elements of light exercise effectively reduce the symptoms of false contractions.


Braxton Hicks contractions are completely harmless. There should be no negative symptoms when they appear. Call an ambulance if you observe strong and intensely growing pains in the lower abdomen that begin to girdle. It is imperative to consult a doctor if the contractions are repeated too often and at regular intervals. Consult a doctor if there is bleeding, amniotic fluid discharge, or a sharp increase in pressure.

What Not to Do

When training contractions appear, you must make sure that they are. You don’t have to search the internet for answers. Consult your doctor if in doubt. Don’t panic ahead of time. Excitement is reflected in the state of the uterus and its tone. Painful pressing feelings may intensify. What is better not to do when false contractions appear:

Take medication

There are no medications for contractions. Any medication can harm the development of the fetus. Painkillers, antispasmodics, or other drugs will not help reduce the occurrence of false contractions.

Endure the urge to go to the toilet

Retention of urine leads to a strong filling of the bladder. This enhances the pressing sensations and symptoms of false contractions. Try to empty your bowels and bladder on time.

Do not overwork

Do not physically overload your body during Braxton Hicks contractions. Reduce the number of sports, and physical activity, and do not lift or carry heavy things. Take a rest.

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