Braxton Hicks at 23 Weeks

Braxton Hicks are often mistaken for true labor, and they are light, usually painless, irregular contractions of the uterus. When this happens, the muscles of the uterus tighten for a few seconds to as long as 30 seconds or longer. Although they can gradually increase in frequency and intensity, and sometimes become more rhythmic throughout a pregnancy, they do not cause labor contractions or open up the cervix.

Is Braxton Hicks at 23 Weeks Normal?

Having Braxton Hicks at this week is very normal, and most of times you don’t need to worry about them. You may feel Braxton Hicks contractions at any time after week 20 of pregnancy. They will be more noticeable in later weeks, and increase through week 32 or until real labor starts. As your uterus grows, you might notice this brief and painless tightening, once or twice an hour, a few times daily. Some medical experts believe they may help keep the uterine muscles toned. However, experiencing a few Braxton Hicks contractions is not a sign that you are going into labor.

What Does Braxton Hicks at 23 Weeks Feel Like?

Braxton Hicks are typically not painful, and unlike labor pain, it doesn’t grow more painful with each contraction. They will usually stay weak, or start out strong and grow weaker. Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular, and begin as a tightening in your lower abdomen that begins in the upper part of the uterine muscles and radiates downwards. They will sometimes make your abdomen to become rigid and misshapen. As you get closer to your estimated due date, the contractions usually become more frequent and intense. Many first time mothers may not notice them as much, or feel them as intensely as mothers who are pregnant for the second time.

How Do Other Moms Describe the Feeling?

"I'm at 23 weeks and recently I have started feeling a strange sort of pressure in my lower abdomen, under my navel. There's not any pain or very much discomfort with the pressure, it just feels like my muscles are tightening up, and it only lasts a couple of seconds.”

“This is my second pregnancy at 23 weeks, and I have Braxton Hicks if I lift too much, have sex, get excited, or when the pressure builds up in my bladder. They sometimes get worse and sometimes may have patterns.”

Braxton Hicks vs. Labor Contractions: What Are the Differences?

There are many differences that exist between Braxton Hicks and labor contractions.

1. Braxton Hicks Contractions

  • They typically don’t occur more than couple of times an hour, and they happen only a couple of times a day.
  • They are typically irregular, or if they are regular, only remain that way for a short time.
  • They sometimes stop if you change an activity.
  • They don't last very long, usually less than a minute.
  • They are typically irregular, or if they are regular, only remain that way for a short time.
  • They will not increase in intensity.
  • They continue to be non-rhythmic and unpredictable.
  • They may become more rhythmic in late pregnancy (pre-labor).
  • They can be hard to tell apart from early labor, particularly if the tightening of your uterus feels uncomfortable in late pregnancy (pre-labor).

2. Labor Contractions

  • They are increasingly longer than Braxton Hicks.
  • They will increase in frequency and intensity.
  • They are more frequent and regular.
  • They will be more painful.

What Can You Do to Ease Your Discomfort?

Braxton Hicks at 23 weeks are normal and don’t need treatment. However, if you feel uncomfortable, you can try:

  • Changing your position or activity.
  • Taking a warm bath to help your body relax.
  • Drinking a couple of glasses of water, since Braxton Hicks contractions can sometimes be brought on by dehydration.
  • Applying slow and deep breathing techniques.
  • Doing relaxation exercises.
  • Practicing some of the pain-management strategies you've learned in your childbirth preparation class.

These don’t stop the Braxton Hicks contractions, but may help you cope with the discomfort.

When Should You Call Your Doctor?

If you feel pressure, pain, or discomfort in your abdomen pelvis, or lower back, you may be having the first signs of labor. You should contact your obstetrician or midwife immediately, especially if you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant. Labor pains might feel like strong menstrual cramps, or very strong cramping.

What’s more, you should contact your obstetrician or midwife immediately if you have:

  • Contractions every 10 minutes or more.
  • More than five contractions in an hour.
  • Increasing pressure in your pelvis or vagina.
  • Fluid leaking from your vagina.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, and vomiting.

If you have pain and are not sure whether they are labor pains or Braxton Hicks contractions, you should contact your midwife or obstetrician.

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