In Depth Baby Product Reviews Led by a Pediatrician

Braxton-Hicks Versus Early Labor Contractions

Knowing the difference can save you a trip and decrease anxiety
Braxton-Hicks Versus Early Labor Contractions
Credit: ferli ©
Thursday October 17, 2019

During pregnancy, your body is undergoing a lot of changes in a relatively short period; most of which you have never experienced before if this is your first pregnancy. Some changes you might encounter as your body prepares for baby's arrival are leaking colostrum from your breasts or Braxton-Hicks Contractions.

bella materna anytime nursing bra
Bella Materna Anytime Nursing Bra
Credit: Bella Materna

Colostrum is the precursor to breast milk, and leaking at this stage in pregnancy is not typically something you need to worry about. If the liquid appears to be bloody, blood-tinged, or even green, call your doctor for a visit. Otherwise, you'll want to invest in some breast pads to keep the fluid from staining your shirts or causing an embarrassing situation at work or the grocery store. You might also consider buying a nursing bra at this point that you can wear at night to help prevent a wet or stained mattress.

The other interesting thing that can happen in this trimester is Braxton-Hicks Contractions. Braxton-Hicks is essentially the hardening of the uterus as it practices contractions in preparation for labor. These contractions are usually painless and feel like a hardening of the belly for about 30 seconds at a time. They are the body's way of working out and getting the uterus into shape to be strong enough to push the baby out when labor really starts. The contractions also help deliver more blood to the placenta bringing even more nutrients and oxygen to the baby. Braxton-Hicks contractions are usually normal and do not indicate anything you need to worry about. However, if the contractions last for an extended period, are painful, or happen with back pain, you should call your doctor. You may need to schedule a visit to rule out preterm labor. This experience might be an excellent time to practice your breathing and relaxation techniques you plan to use during labor. Do not bear down or push; concentrate on relaxing and regular breathing. If you have concerns, always contact your caregiver. You will not be the first or the last woman to confuse Braxton-Hicks with pre-term labor.

Reference Sources

  1. WebMD - Braxton Hicks or True Labor Contractions?
  1. Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
  1. American Pregnancy Association - Braxton-Hicks

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