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Braxton Hicks Contractions V/S Real Labour

The term ‘Pregnancy’ generates an idea of both contentment and agony in women. It not only embarks an incredible expedition in her life but also sets off anxiousness and distress regarding the various nuances it holds. A pregnant woman goes through a great deal of physical metamorphosis every day, discovering new things about her body with passing time. The 9 months tenure is exigent enough for women to nurture two lives for a bright and salutary future.

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Amongst the various physical predicaments of pregnancy, Braxton Hicks Contractions is a very puzzling one. Many are still not clear about the meaning it holds and confuses it with labour pains generating meaningless strain.

Let’s look into the various aspects of Braxton Hicks Contractions and Real Labour:-

  • Braxton Hicks are basically contractions that occur before real labour. The term was originated in 1872 after an English Doctor John Braxton Hicks who delineated this. It is mainly irregular uterine contraction which is commonly experienced during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It is also known as ‘practice contractions’. These are usually Non-rhythmic and unpredictable

You can also read: What To Expect in The First Trimester Of Pregnancy

Physicians believe that Braxton Hicks is a completely normal affair during pregnancy. These contractions are a way of tightening and toning the uterine muscle and fibre, making you ready for real labour. This contraction happens to stimulate blood flow into the placenta, helping to stretch and soften the cervix to make a way for the baby properly during delivery.

There are few factors that lead to Braxton Hicks Contractions:-

  • When a mother or baby is active
  • Dehydration
  • Touching the belly
  • Intercourse
  • A full Bladder

The main symptoms of these contractions are lower abdominal cramps which sustain for 30 to 60 seconds. They are mainly irregular in intensity and unpredictable in nature. For some women, they can be comfortable and for some, they are very painful disappearing suddenly if you change your activity or position or take a warm water bath.

Labour occurs when the body is ready for delivery. It is the way by which foetus and placenta leaver uterus. This occurs in a few stages and might commence a few weeks before the delivery of a baby. It causes pain due to contractions of uterus mainly known as ‘labour pains’. The main reasons behind labour pain are the stretching and dilation of the cervix, making way for the delivery and birth of the baby.

The pivotal signs of labour are:-

  • Frequent contractions which stay for a few seconds.
  • Backache
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Vaginal bleeding and discharge accompanied by a change in colour


These mainly differ from each other in frequency, regularity and intensity.

  • Braxton Hicks or false labour are very irregular, whereas real labour is frequent; lasts for a longer time period.
  • False labour can be stopped with a change in activity or position but true labour contractions don’t stop. They continue till delivery.
  • Braxton Hicks is less painful and at times comfortable for few women. But actual labour pain is excessively painful and more intense.
  • Braxton Hicks usually occur during the 6th week (around second or third trimester), but real labour occurs near the last few weeks before delivery.
  • False labour is felt in front of the pelvic or abdomen region; whereas real labour starts in the lower back moving slowly to the frontal abdomen.
  • False labour doesn’t involve bleeding but real labour involves bleeding and breaking of waters.

Pregnancy is a broad spectrum of traits and facets. Ignorance of few facts and terminologies might cause additional anxiety and weariness. Thus to avoid this, a pregnant woman should have proper knowledge of all minute details so that she can avoid any adverse situation, assisting herself before she is taken to the hospital. A good perception and command over pregnancy and its nature ensure the prosperity of both mother and baby.

Click here to Book an Appointment with the Best Pregnancy Doctor Near You

Must Read: Get Rid of Post Pregnancy Stretch Marks in 5 Effective Ways