Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular tightenings of the uterus. Although Braxton Hicks contractions happen from very early in pregnancy, most women do not really notice them until the second half of pregnancy. Braxton Hicks contractions are thought to play a part in toning the uterine muscle and promoting the flow of blood to the placenta. Some people call them ’practice contractions’.
Braxton Hicks contractions tend to be started off by either you or the baby moving, or by somebody touching your abdomen. Each ‘contraction’ may last 1-2 minutes. During this time, the whole uterus becomes hard. This may feel strange and rather uncomfortable – but should not be painful. Braxton Hicks contractions stay much the same throughout pregnancy (although you may notice them more); they do not get larger, harder or more frequent
What can I do about them?
- Accept Braxton Hicks contractions as a normal and healthy part of pregnancy. If you find them particularly uncomfortable, take the opportunity to practice your relaxation exercises
- Tell your midwife or doctor, if the contractions become more frequent or more painful over several hours or days – or if you lose blood or other fluid from your vagina. This may be a sign of preterm labour