Braxton Hicks contractions and labour contractions

Sammandragningar och värkar - engelska

The uterus is a muscle. Sometimes during pregnancy, the uterus will tighten and then relax. These are called Braxton Hicks contractions, or false labour. The uterus also tightens and relaxes when it is time to give birth. These contractions are called labour.

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What Braxton Hicks contractions feel like

When you have a contraction, your stomach gets hard. It may feel uncomfortable. But it usually does not hurt. 
Braxton Hicks contractions usually come at irregular intervals. They may come as you move or exert yourself, such as walking fast or lifting something. 

It is common to have Braxton Hicks contractions 

Braxton Hicks contractions often go away when you rest or relax. 
It is common to have Braxton Hicks contractions from midway through your pregnancy until it is time to give birth. 

How labour contractions feel

When the body starts to get ready for childbirth, you will have labour contractions.

Labour contractions usually hurt more. They come at regular intervals.  

Labour contractions get stronger and more severe as labour progresses.  
You may feel pressure in your lower abdomen. You may also feel pain in your back. 

When it is time to go to the maternity ward

When the labour contractions are about two to three minutes apart, it is usually time to go to the maternity ward at the hospital.  

You can go there earlier than this if you feel you need help. Always call the maternity ward of the hospital before going there. 

Read more here about when it is time to go to the hospital maternity ward. 

When and where should I seek medical care?

You do not need to seek medical care if you are having Braxton Hicks contractions. 

It may be difficult to tell the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and labour contractions. Contact a midwife (barnmorska) at the midwifery clinic if you are worried or uncertain. 

Get help from an interpreter 

You can get help from an interpreter if you do not speak Swedish.  Let the clinic know you need an interpreter when you book your appointment. 

If urgent care is needed 

You may need medical attention more urgently if any of the following apply:  

  • You are having Braxton Hicks contractions, and blood or amniotic fluid is coming from your vagina at the same time. This may mean you have gone into labour. 

Contact one of these clinics: 

  • An emergency department if it occurs during the first half of your pregnancy. 
  • A maternity ward if it occurs during the second half of your pregnancy. 

Call 1177 for advice 

Call 1177 for help on what to do.  

Your call will be answered by a nurse. The nurse can speak both Swedish and English.  
Help is sometimes available in other languages.  

Call +46 771 11 77 00 if you are calling from a phone with a foreign number. 


If you are having Braxton Hicks or labour contractions, the midwife may need to examine you by ultrasound. 

They may also perform a urine test. 


You may need medicine if you are having labour contractions before it is time to give birth. 

You do not need to do anything special when you feel Braxton Hicks contractions. But the following may provide some relief: 

  • You can take a hot bath or shower.  
  • You can rest and relax. 
  • A simple massage may help you to relax. 
  • You can try different body positions. 

The same things may help and relieve pain when you are in labour.  
You can read more here about pain relief during childbirth. 

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