Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Strong Braxton Hicks contractions

Rib and chest wall pains
In late pregnancy the baby can push up under the woman's ribs causing rib pain and 'flaring' (or pushing the ribs slightly outwards). This can strain the muscles between the ribs (or 'intercostal muscles') and cause pain and discomfort.

Sitting more upright and giving the baby a gentle 'push down' with your hand may take the pressure off. If you have constant severe pain in the chest, ribs, or upper back, especially when you breathe in and out, you should contact your caregiver to rule out any heart or lung complications. Breathlessnesscan be a normal complaint during pregnancy.

Strong Braxton Hicks contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions are the 'practise' contractions of the uterus or 'tightenings' felt, usually after about 20 weeks of the pregnancy. For many women they are painless, but for some they can be quite strong and even painful or 'labour-like', especially the last few weeks of the pregnancy. This is especially so if it is your second or subsequent baby.

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if they actually ARE labour pains and some women are concerned about premature labour. Braxton Hicks are usually more infrequent or less regular than labour pains and either are quite short, (20-30 seconds) or overly long (90seconds to 2 minutes). Sometimes though, they can be similar to prelabour and be felt for a couple of hours, usually in the evenings, 5 minutes apart, or so and then settle. This is not a concern if you are more than 37 weeks pregnant, but if it is before this time you should contact your caregiver.

Closer to the due date, women will often complain of strong Braxton Hicks. When discussing these pains with women they usually will tell you that being in labour had crossed their minds, but it felt a little 'different'. Women normally have an intuitive feeling that lets her know whether it is 'time' or not, but if you are concerned contact your caregiver or the hospital. Unfortunately Braxton Hicks can be a source of an uncomfortable pregnancy and often broken sleep.

Using stress and relaxation techniques or strategies for insomnia may help. Some women use acupuncture and homoeopathics such as Belladonna, Calcarea carbonica or Chamomilla to relieve them. (Consult with your homoeopath.) Herbalists may suggest using Crampbark or Skullcap or perhaps raspberry leaf tea or tablets (although this can increase painful Braxton Hicks for some women), see your practitioner. You may also experience strong 'afterpains' after the birth.

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