Braxton Hicks at 34 Weeks

Braxton Hick contractions are named after an English doctor John Braxton Hick who first described the phenomenon of uterine contractions in the year 1872. Braxton Hick contractions are sporadic contractions that first begin after 6 weeks of pregnancy (most women don’t feel them that early) and continue till term. It is noteworthy that as pregnancy progresses, these contractions tend to get more intense and periodic. Braxton Hicks at 34 weeks are irregular, appear infrequently and remain painless. Yet, a lot of pregnant mommies tend to worry; mistaking these contractions for the onset of labor.

You should know that 34 weeks of gestation is an important milestone in the pregnancy as the lungs of the fetus beginto produce surfactant; thereby making the baby capable of surviving the external environment and maintaining a healthy existence in case of a pre-term delivery.

What Do Braxton Hicks at 34 Weeks Feel Like?

Having Braxton Hicks when 34 weeks pregnant is very much similar to the contractions which appear in the preterm labor and are usually described as a feeling of mild to intense squeezing, followed by relaxation in the lower abdomen and uterus.

You should know that Braxton Hick contraction is a normal phenomenon that most women feel at periodic intervals after 20 weeks of gestation in an attempt to prepare the uterus of females for labor and childbirth.  The feeling of uterine muscle tightness starts from the mid abdomen and spreads throughout the cavity. These are relatively painless and lasts for a few seconds; but in some cases strong contraction of muscles is accompanied with mild pain as well.

Following are some of the characteristic symptoms of Braxton Hicks at 34 weeks:

  • The abdomen appears as a hard mass of tissues
  • Severe pressure is felt on the lower abdomen
  • Contractions are usually one-sided
  • The length and intensity of contractions is different from the true labor (usually ranging from 20-30 seconds to 2 minutes).
  • Dehydration usually precipitates or aggravates the intensity of Braxton Hick contractions

Can It Be Pre-term Labor?

True labor contractions grow stronger and longer as the time passes but Braxton Hicks at 34 weeks are generally uneven. Sometimes Braxton hick contractions can become painful like the true labor contractions but they do not occur as consistently. In addition, each contraction is generally far apart from consequent contractions.

The appearance of Braxton Hick contractions at 34 week of pregnancy may indicate that labor is near, especially if these are occurring at regular intervals for more than 5 days or more. In all such cases, it becomes necessary to get the pregnant mommy examined by a physician particularly if the pain and contractions are accompanied with pain in the lower back region.

A physician or nurse will put the women on a monitor to check if the contractions are suggestive of true labor. A cervical exam is also performed to check if there is any dilation of cervix. If the female is having any cervical dilatation then the contractions are of true labor but if there is no cervical dilation then the female is sent home.

What to Do About Those Contractions

Following are some measures which must be considered if the Braxton Hicks at 34 weeks are uncomfortable and painful:

  • Change the type of activities such as slow walking, which is known to lighten the contraction pain
  • Change in position such as lying down  
  • Take shower with warm water to relax the body muscles
  • Maintain adequate hydration, drink lots of water
  • Deep breathing helps in decreasing the discomfort caused by Braxton Hick at 34 weeks

Check for the signs and symptoms to differentiate false labor from preterm labor, which include:

  • Abdominal and pelvic pressure
  • Dull but constant backache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Mild spotting or bleeding (could be bloody show) and cramps
  • Change in vaginal discharge like a gush of watery vaginal discharge (could be water breaking)

Learn from Other Moms’ Experience

Many pregnant women have experienced Braxton Hicks at 34 weeks or even earlier, here’s what they say:

“Although the experience of pregnancy is different in different women. I am sharing the Braxton Hick contraction experience of my daughter. She was 34 weeks pregnant when one day she came out of shower and said that she was feeling a lot of pressure and contractions in her lower abdomen. We took her to the clinic where they performed a cervical exam, only to learn that she was 4cm dilated. The pressure and pain was appearing as Braxton hick contractions. The doctors kept my daughter in hospital for about a week and then discharged with 5cm to wait for her true labor contractions.”

“It is better to get checked by a physician if the pain and contractions are constant and does not resolve even after changing the positions. Also make a check if there is any whitish or brown color discharge from vagina (sometimes mild spotting may appear also). If the female has completed her 34 weeks and any of the signs are appearing then consult to the healthcare provider without any delay.”

“I have been experiencing these Braxton hick contractions since the day I can remember, now I am 33 weeks and I have almost 50 Braxton contractions per day, initially the contractions were often and mild but now the pressure I feel in my lower abdomen is intense and painful like that of menstrual cramps. I have called in ER a lot of times but they always respond that such contractions are normal. Just check on the regularity of contractions if they are not regular then there is nothing to be worried about.”

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