Ways to Identify Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks Contractions are a kind of faux pass related to pregnancy. These are false alarms that make pregnant women think they are in labor. Read on for tips to identify these imitators.

Ariba Khaliq
Written by: Ariba KhaliqUpdated at: Dec 30, 2013 00:00 IST
Ways to Identify Braxton Hicks Contractions

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Braxton Hicks contractions are relatively painless, irregular and infrequent contractions that start around week six and last until the weeks before delivery. They are commonly referred to as “false labour”. These contractions are your body's way of practicing and preparing for labor.

a woman in laborThey're true contractions that occur when the uterus tightens as a result of the hormone oxytocin; however, they're not strong enough to initiate labor.

How do Braxton Hicks Contractions feel like?


These contractions are often irregular and do not get close together.

While during true labor, contractions come at regular intervals and last for about 30-70 seconds. They get closer and stronger with time.

False labor contractions are non-rhythmic.


Braxton Hicks contractions may stop with some physical alertness or even changing positions.

While true labor contractions are immune to any physical movement.


False labor contractions are usually weak. They may get strong initially but get weaker with passing time.

While true labor contractions consistently grow stronger.


Contractions are usually only felt in the front of the abdomen or pelvis.

While true labor contractions are more intense and may start in the lower back and move to the front of the abdomen. Or they may start in your abdomen and move to your back.

If your contractions are easing up in any way, they are most likely Braxton Hicks.


Braxton Hicks contractions do not last long and may disappear altogether.

While true labor produces longing contractions which are persistent.

Effect on cervix

False labor contractions put no effect on the cervix.

While the cervix opens during true labor contractions.

Causes of Braxton hicks contractions

These contractions may occur without any reasons but sometimes can be triggered. Those triggers might be:

•    Strenuous exercise or activity
•    Dehydration
•    Sex, particularly orgasm
•    Someone touching the mother's belly
•    When the bladder is full

Signs of Labor

To differentiate between true labor and false alarm, one must know the signs of true labor. They are:

•    Lower back ache or pain in your abdomen or pelvis
•    Loose Stools
•    Brown-tinged mucous
•    Watery discharge
•    Increased Urination

Effects on baby

Braxton Hicks contractions won’t affect your baby as long as they don’t turn into preterm labor. In fact, some medical professionals say these contractions are toning up your uterus and promoting the flow of blood to your placenta, so think of it as nourishing your baby.

To Ease up False labor contractions

There are measures you can take to bring about relief if Braxton-Hicks contractions are uncomfortable:

•    Changing positions, such as taking a walk, or rest if you are active
•    Drink a glass of water, or a cup of herbal tea
•    Try relaxing exercises or mental relaxation
•    Eat something
•    Try a warm bath for up to 30 minutes

When to call the doctor

If you haven't reached 37 weeks and the contractions are increasing in frequency, are more painful or you have any of the signs of preterm labor:

•    Increase vaginal discharge or any vaginal bleeding or spotting
•    Increasing low back pain or pelvic pressure
•    More than four contractions an hour
•    Menstrual like cramping or abdominal pain

If in case your contractions become longer, stronger and too frequent then you labour may be starting. You will have to talk to your midwife or doctor about it and they will tell you what to do when you think your labour has begun.

Read more articles on Problems during Pregnancy