Braxton Hicks at 20 Weeks

Braxton Hicks contractions can be quite worrisome, especially for first-time mothers; but rest assured that they are not only safe, they are actually perfectly normal. Braxton Hicks contractions usually begin during the middle of the pregnancy. They are a strong tightening of the uterine muscles. Some women might not feel them at all; other women feel them quite strongly. They are definitely contractions, but they don’t mean that you are in labor. Braxton Hicks at 20 weeks or more can signify that your body is ‘practicing’ for the real thing.

Is It Normal to Have Braxton Hicks at 20 Weeks?

Many women begin to feel Braxton Hicks during their third trimester, but having them as early as the second trimester is not unusual. In fact, Braxton Hicks at 20 weeks is perfectly okay – your uterus has been contracting a bit since the seventh week! The larger your uterus becomes, the more you will feel the contractions.

These contractions often begin as a tightening that doesn’t have much pain associated with it. Over time they might become stronger and feel like menstrual cramps. Near the end of your pregnancy, they might be uncomfortable enough to wake you up when they happen at night. But they aren’t considered true labor because they do not lead to harder labor, and they don’t contract enough to actually open the cervix.

What Are the Causes and How to Get Relief?

Almost anything can trigger Braxton Hicks at 20 weeks and beyond. They are especially common after a long day during which the mother has been very active. They can also happen if the baby itself has been moving around a great deal. If you are dehydrated, if you have a full bladder, of if you have just had sex, Braxton Hicks can become more pronounced. They can even be triggered by someone simply touching your belly!

There is nothing you can do about Braxton Hicks, as they are perfectly normal and natural. However, if you are uncomfortable, try these tips:

  • Change position. Get up and walk around! Sometimes a change in position will convince the contractions to calm down.
  • Get some sleep. If you are overly tired, you might not only have more contractions, but also feel them more strongly.
  • Get a massage. The pressure of someone’s hands on your body can relieve the aches and pains, as well as calm down the contractions.
  • Try to relax. A warm bath, relaxing music, reading a good book, and other relaxation techniques can help you alleviate the pain of Braxton Hicks.

When to Be Concerned

Even though most contractions at this stage are nothing to worry about, they might be a sign of a problem if they are combined with other symptoms. If you are having Braxton Hicks at 20 weeks – or at any point – and are also experiencing vaginal bleeding, leaking of fluids from the vagina, or contractions that are too frequent, or don’t go away, it’s time to call your doctor.

Another thing to note is your baby’s movements. If they change in intensity and duration, or if they have decreased, get to the hospital immediately.

What Others Have Experienced

It often helps to hear what others have experienced, so you can better judge if your situation is ‘normal’ or not. Here’s what others had to say:

“I started getting Braxton Hicks at 20 weeks. But a week later they weren’t just random, but coming every ten minutes or so. They hooked me up to the monitor and we could definitely see them, but after a few hours the doctor checked and said I wasn’t having any signs of preterm labor. So I was told to just ride it out for now.”

“Everything seemed fine with my pregnancy, but then I started having Braxton Hicks that were so strong I had to stop and breathe through them. That didn’t seem right, so I went into the ER. It turned out that I had an infection and needed antibiotics immediately! After the first dose, my Braxton Hicks went away.”

“I started having Braxton Hicks at 20 weeks, too. The doctor told me to count them. If I had more than six in one hour, I was told to lie on my side and drink some water. If I still had them, I should call him immediately. Sometimes I would have six in an hour, or even more, but the water never failed to make them stop. I delivered a healthy baby at 39 weeks!”

“I never had them with my first child, but then I had them all the time with my second. With my third, nothing – not a single one that I can feel. How odd!”

What if Braxton Hicks are Painful?

Most of the time, Braxton Hicks at 20 weeks and beyond are not going to be painful. However, they do become more intense as the pregnancy progresses and your uterus gets bigger. Sometimes they might even feel like the real thing, but if they diminish when you move around or drink water, then they were definitely not real.

However, you could need some help getting through them. Remember to concentrate on your breath when you have them. Breathe slow and deep, and count as you do, to help you take your mind off the pain.

If the discomfort becomes too much, talk to your doctor. This is especially true if you have tried walking around, having a warm bath, relaxing and drinking water, yet the Braxton Hicks continue.

Another Pain: Round Ligament Pain

Braxton Hicks at 20 weeks might actually be something called round ligament pain. This is caused by the ligaments around your uterus stretching to accommodate your growing body. Often this stretching can lead to pain. It might happen on one side at a time, or both sides at once. It usually feels sharp and stabbing, or a dull ache. It usually goes away quickly, but if it doesn’t, speak to your doctor. Though round ligament pain is normal, a continuous pain is not – it might be a sign of a problem.