False labour pains

False labour pains

Before the "true" labour begins, the expectant mother may have "false" labour pains, also known as Braxton Hicks Contractions. They are the body's way of getting ready for the real labour. The mother-to-be may feel these irregular contractions of her uterus during the third trimester, although they may start to happen as early as the second trimester. They are perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. This term has been derived from the name of Dr. John Braxton Hicks, an English doctor who first described them in 1872.

How to recognise

These contractions are not typically painful and they don't occur at regular intervals. Braxton Hicks contractions will fluctuate in an inconsistent pattern. On the other hand, when the expectant mother is in true labour, contractions will occur closer together, increase with walking and will last longer each time the mother has one, as the labour progresses. Braxton Hicks contractions does not behave in this way, but instead, tends to go away when the mother walks, lies down, or changes positions.

To feel relieved

The mother can take a walk or change positions. This is a good way to know if she is having true or false contractions because walking or changing positions won't get rid of true contractions. It is also believed that a warm bath can help relax the body and calm the uterus. Be sure that it is only lukewarm though, and not hot, for the sake of the baby.

(The writer is a gynecologist)