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Tightening of Stomach During Pregnancy

Neha Joshi Apr 16, 2019
Want to know what causes tightening of stomach during pregnancy? Here, we will tell you everything about stomach tightening during pregnancy, what causes it, and how it is perfectly normal to experience something like this.
Tightening of your stomach during pregnancy is an absolutely common phenomenon and is no reason for worry. Many women panic the first time they experience this tightening and are complete clueless as to what caused these contractions. Well, the cause for these contractions is a condition known as 'Braxton Hicks'.
You will know what causes the tightening of stomach, and how you can be sure that it is nothing but Braxton Hicks. If you already know about Braxton Hicks, we will tell you how its symptoms are different from labor pains and what happens exactly.

What are Braxton Hicks?

In 1872, an English doctor came up with the concept of Braxton Hicks. The condition is named after him, his name being 'John Braxton Hicks'. This condition is experienced when you have crossed approximately half of your pregnancy term. You may start noticing these contractions a little before or a little after as well. What happens is this.
When you place your hands on your tummy, you can actually feel the stomach muscles harden. These are at times taken as misleading signs of going into labor. This is because the contraction lasts for about a few seconds, mostly somewhere around 30. As you progress with your pregnancy, you will see an increase in these contractions known as Braxton Hicks.

What do Braxton Hicks Feel Like?

Abdominal tightening during pregnancy is usually taken as cramping in early pregnancy, and thus, it is very important for women to know what do Braxton Hicks feel like, and when do they start.
This is because many times, they might seem like false labor signs, and you might rush to the hospital in panic. These are absolutely normal and can be determined with the following pointers. The muscles do tighten during Braxton Hicks, and the condition is somewhat similar to labor pains.
However, Braxton Hicks do not last longer than 30 seconds usually and also do not come at regular intervals. The intensity too, does not increase in one particular episode, but might increase as the weeks pass by. One important point is that Braxton Hicks subside if you change your current position. Which means, if you are sitting, stand up, and vice versa.

How are they Different from Labor Pains?

The tightening, as we have seen, is a result of Braxton Hicks. Since they are confused with labor pains all the time, let us distinguish between the two. Labor pains come at regular intervals while Braxton Hicks contractions are experienced only twice in an hour and few times in the entire day.
Labor pains increase with immediate intensity in a particular episode while Braxton Hicks remain on the same intensity scale. Labor pains do not subside with a change in position while they do in case of Braxton Hicks. Labor pains can be determined by increase in intensity of the pain, increase in duration of the pain, and also an increase in the frequency.
Tightness of stomach is a normal condition that every expecting mother has to go through. However, doctors say that if you experience discharge or bleeding along with contractions, you should report to the consulting doctor immediately as this might be a sign of premature labor.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.