Braxton Hicks contractions

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Braxton Hicks contractions
ICD-10 O47
ICD-9 644.1

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Braxton Hicks' contractions, also known as false labour (British English, false labor in American English) or practice contractions. Braxton Hicks are sporadic uterine contractions that actually start at about 6 weeks, although one will not feel them that early. Most women start feeling them during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.

Cause

Braxton Hicks contractions is a tightening of the uterine muscles for one to two minutes and is thought to be an aid to the body in its preparation for birth. Not all expectant mothers have these contractions. They are thought to be part of the process of effacement, the thinning and dilation of the cervix.

History

Braxton Hicks are named after the English doctor who first described them. In 1872, John Braxton Hicks investigated the latter stages of pregnancy and noted that many women felt contractions without being near birth. This process was usually painless but caused women confusion as to whether or not they were going into actual labor. It has since been found that Braxton Hicks' contractions are much less noticeable during exercise, whereas real contractions are not.

Worsening factors

Dehydration is thought to be a contributing factor in extended Braxton Hicks contractions.

Relieving factors

Methods for ceasing Braxton Hicks contractions include: changing position; taking a warm bath or shower; drinking water; resting; or changing activities.[1]

References

  1. "Braxton Hicks Contractions". babycenter.com, Medical Advisory Board. July, 2005. Baby Center, LLC. June 1, 2007 <http://www.babycenter.com/refcap/156.html>

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