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Braxton Hicks or real labour?

Knowing whether you’re experiencing Braxton Hicks or in real labour can be very difficult, especially late in your pregnancy when your due date is approaching and the Braxton Hicks are getting stronger.

Firstly, Braxton Hicks are infrequent and irregular while real contractions have more rhythm. If you’re in real labour, your contractions will gradually get longer, stronger and closer together. So if you’re not sure, it’s worth timing them. Generally, before week 37 of pregnancy you can pretty much bet they’re Braxton Hicks. However, if you experience more than 4 in one hour and they are accompanied by vaginal bleeding, an urge to push, diarrhoea and/or nausea, we recommend calling your physician as you may be going into preterm labour.

clock with 3 hands

Time your contractions to decide whether you’re in real labour
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After week 37, if your contractions are about 60 seconds long and 5 minutes apart for over an hour and nothing eases the discomfort or pain, call your physician. It is probably be the real thing and you are in the first stage of labour.

Secondly, if the contractions disappear when you go to sleep or exercise they are Braxton Hicks. Trust us when we say you can’t do either when you have begun real labour!

Thirdly, if you’ve just had sex and had an orgasm, Braxton Hicks usually follow, especially in your final trimester.

Remember though, when in doubt it is best to contact your physician or midwife, because it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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