What is the difference between Braxton-hicks and actual contractions?

Amanda - posted on 10/15/2011 ( 7 moms have responded )

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This is my 2nd baby and I am full-term right now but I'm not sure what the difference between these contractions. I was induced over a month early in my first pregnancy and had an episiotomy for health reasons so I have never experienced any type of contractions before. I was 2cm dilated yesterday when the doctor checked. After my doctor checked my cervix, I began having slight cramps which could've been caused by the exam. However, today I spent most of the day with severe cramping in my lower abdomen and sharp annoying pains and a little pressure in my cervix. Is this part of Braxton-Hicks contractions or actual contractions? Someone please help. Thank you.

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Nikki - posted on 10/15/2011

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Braxton hicks don't proceed like normal contractions, they are irregular and they don't get more intense as time goes by. In saying that though, when I went into labour I thought it was braxton hicks because my contractions were never regular until I was 2 minutes apart, but it did get more painful as the hours went by. Good luck!

Tina - posted on 10/15/2011

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If the pains are quite regular or you're getting any type of bloody disgarge I'd be going straight to the hospital they'll be able to tell you.

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Sherri - posted on 10/16/2011

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Actual contractions will not stop or lighten up and will continue to increase and become shorter in between.. Braxton Hicks will usually just be all over the place and eventually just stop.

Elfrieda - posted on 10/16/2011

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I agree with Erin. I think your body is just warming up. Try to rest as much as you can right now.
For myself, I had BH contractions without even knowing that they were happening. I couldn't feel them, but just looking at my stomach I could see that they were happening. Then I had that early/prodomal labour contractions, which I thought were the real thing, but they went on for several days before I actually went into labour.
My friend's experience was different. She'd felt all kinds of aches and pains for the last month or so, and her BH contractions kind of hurt. Then suddenly she just went into labour in a big way, kind of like you see on movies and tv.

I think different bodies do it differently.

Bonnie - posted on 10/16/2011

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Braxton hicks contractions are not even half as painful, although they can be very uncomfortable and they go away. Real labour contractions will not go away.

Sharlene - posted on 10/16/2011

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Darles you will know the difference between contrations to braxton kicks ,Contractions are usually more hard and stronger to braxton kick are usually foot/leg kicks all the best with new babie darls

Erin - posted on 10/15/2011

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BH contractions generally aren't painful, and are more of a tightening. Your belly will go very hard and possibly odd-shaped. Real contractions start off mild and build up to a peak. They will increase in intensity and frequency as your labour progresses.



But what you're experiencing sounds like prodromal labour (or prelabour). The sharp pains, the pressure and cramping all sound like the prodromal I had. It is basically your body warming up, and can last days or even weeks. Usually a bath or shower, or a rest will get them to ease off. If it is real labour, those things will not change the pattern of contractions.

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