Braxton Hicks - what are they all about?

Braxton Hicks - what are they all about?

January 2014

Most of us have heard of Braxton Hicks at some point but do you actually know what they are?  If not, here is Project-B’s quick guide to this natural occurrence.

Put simply, Braxton Hicks are a tightening of your uterus.  It’s been busy doing it since around seven weeks of pregnancy but you won’t start to feel it until later, usually around the middle to late stages.   Whilst they can take you by surprise, they shouldn’t cause any discomfort of note although they can increase in frequency and strength as your pregnancy develops. 

Named after the English doctor John Braxton Hicks who first put a name to these occurrences in 1872, they are actually a good sign that your uterus is toning itself up for its job in labour.  That’s not to say you should worry if you don’t feel any, every pregnancy is different.

Many mums-to-be mistake Braxton Hicks for the early stages of labour, and if you are in doubt you should check with your midwife, but it’s worth knowing that labour pains are stronger and more regular and frequent, you will feel the contractions noticeably increasing in intensity and length.

Project-B’s resident midwife Gemma Raby recommends managing Braxton Hicks through breathing exercises, taking a walk or having a warm bath.  She goes on to say: “Braxton Hicks are perfectly normal, but you need to call your midwife or GP if you have any watery or bloody vaginal discharge, lower back pain, cramping or pelvic pressure, nausea or diarrhoea, as these may be signs of labour.”

See what mumsnet has to say about Braxton Hicks here: