Contraction

A contraction during pregnancy also known as a uterine contraction is a contraction of the muscles of the uterus.

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Contractions, what are they?

The uterus is a type of muscle. During childbirth, the uterus needs to be strong in order to give effective contractions. Therefore, the uterus contracts from time to time during pregnancy to train itself.

  • Harmless contractions: Braxton Hicks contractions are harmless and usually occur during second and third trimester of pregnancy. They are the uterus' way of practicing and preparing for the upcoming birth.

  • Irregular: They are usually irregular and can be weak to moderately strong. It is normal to experience these contractions occasionally during pregnancy.

  • Difference from labor contractions: An important difference is that Braxton Hicks contractions do not have the same regularity or intensity as labor contractions. They tend to be more erratic and less painful.

  • Change in activity: These contractions can sometimes be triggered by activity, such as moving around much or is dehydrated. Changing position, resting or drinking water can help reduce them.

  • Increased intensity closer to labor: Towards the end of pregnancy, Braxton Hicks contractions can become more intense and regular, which can be confused with the onset of labor. It is important to know the difference between these contractions and those that actually lead to labor.

If you are not sure if the contractions you are experiencing are Braxton Hicks or if they are linked to early labor, it is always best to consult your doctor or midwife for advice and assessment of your specific situation.

Cause of contractions

Contractions are a natural and important aspect of pregnancy as they prepare the expectant mother's body for the upcoming birth. Although the exact reasons behind the differences in contractions between different women are still not fully understood, there are several factors at play. Physiological and hormonal processes control the occurrence of these contractions. It is important to note that although prolonged stress can be a contributing factor, contractions can occur to varying degrees regardless of your stress level.

The body undergoes complex changes during pregnancy and contractions are a natural part of this developmental work to prepare the uterus and fetus for birth.

Symptoms contractions

Below is a description of how it can feel and how you can distinguish contractions from cramps:

  • Contractions are irregular and usually painless, while cramps can be regular and worse, often like a light period pain.< /p>

  • A contraction spreads unevenly across the uterus and can start from different places, while cramping starts from the top of the uterus and spreads downwards.

  • Contractions often go away when you rest or relax unlike cramping. However, some people feel contractions even during rest.

  • Camps are also characterized by the fact that they become stronger and stronger over time and that they usually last longer than contractions.

  • In case of cramping, you can also feel a downward pressure and sometimes the pain can spread to the lower back.

  • If you have given birth before, it is more common to get stronger contractions and that they also come earlier.