Labour contractions can often be confused with Braxton Hicks. Find out how to tell the difference between the two.
You felt it just now: a strong tightening spasm in your uterus that lasted for 20 seconds or more before going away. Is this the beginning of labour? Are you going to have a premature birth? Before you panic and grab your hospital bag, take a minute to read this article to find out if you’re really feeling labour contractions.
Real labour contractions versus Braxton Hicks contractions
From as early as the start of your second trimester, you may start to experience false labour contractions, which are called Braxton Hicks contractions. You may know the feeling as a tightening of your uterine muscles that comes and goes a few times a day irregularly. Braxton Hicks contractions can be more intense than cramps, and usually last longer, although they are harmless and should not cause pain.
Not all pregnant women experience Braxton Hicks contractions, but they are very common. However, they should not be mistaken with true labour contractions, which have the following characteristics:
- Contractions come at regular intervals, gradually getting closer and closer
- Each contraction lasts about half a minute to over a minute
- Contractions get stronger over time
- Contractions persist despite lying down or resting
- You can feel the contractions in other parts of your body like the back
- You have contractions and your water has broken
Find out why you might experience Braxton Hicks contractions on the next page…