As you approach roughly the middle of the pregnancy its not uncommon for your partner to begin to experience Braxton-Hicks contraction, which are also sometimes referred to as “false” labour. This can be very unnerving for first time parents, as they have no idea whether or not the contractions are real. Combine this with the fact that it is usually far too early to go in to labour and it won’t be long before you both start panicking that something could be about to go very wrong. Fortunately, there are some things you can keep in mind to help you understand the difference between the two types of contractions.

Why do they occur?

These contractions are a good thing and although not all pregnant women feel them, it is all part of the body preparing for the arrival of the baby. Quite simply, Braxton-Hicks contractions are your partners body practicing for the big day. When she goes into labour, her uterus is going to contract, but as with any good workout, its much better to warm up before trying to go full throttle. So, from round the fifth month of pregnancy her body will begin to lightly work out, to get ready for the big day.

Are they consistent?

One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between Braxton-Hicks contractions and the real deal, is to simply time the contractions. When the time comes for the baby to arrive and your partner goes into labour, you will be able to tell. The reason for this is simple, the contractions will consistently last somewhere between 30-70 seconds. On top of this, the contractions are going to get more intense and frequent as labour progresses. Braxton-Hicks contractions follow no specific pattern and don’t become more frequent or intense. Its very uncommon for them to cause the type of pain and discomfort you would associate with labour.  If you are unsure how to measure contractions, there are now literally hundreds of apps you can download to your smartphone that make it incredibly easy. They even tell you when its time to make your way to the hospital based on the data.

Does changing position help?

If you have ever watched a film scene with a woman in labour, does it seem like simply rolling on to her side would cause the discomfort to disappear? Of course not. But with Braxton-Hicks contractions simply changing position can result in your partner not feeling them anymore. When it comes to actual labour, the only thing that is going to make the pain go away is an epidural! In addition to changing positions to check, the location of the pain is also usually a giveaway. Braxton-Hicks contractions are only ever felt in the front where the uterus is. Labour contractions will also be felt in the lower back and sometimes even spread to the legs and hips depending on the position of the baby.