Pregnancy tends to come with a host of discomforts, right from morning sickness, to bladder issues, to fatigue. As your pregnancy progresses, you may begin to notice a slight tightness in your stomach during the first trimester. This can be attributed to tightness in your uterus or the moving of the fetus. The expanding baby bump can also cause a persistent feeling of the stiffness of the abdomen, especially in the last few months of pregnancy. But the tightness experienced in the first trimester is actually referred to as a Braxton Hicks contraction (named after the scientist), and it is one of the most common pregnancy symptoms.
With each passing day, the stomach becomes hard like a rock and there’s an incredible feeling of discomfort. When you experience a Braxton Hicks contraction, you might feel the muscles in the uterus contracting. It will make your stomach rigid and stiff, which you will be able to feel if you touch your belly and you may also feel moderate pain in the abdomen which slowly radiates down your body. The amount of stiffness felt, also depends upon your body type. A slim mother would easily detect a little amount of uterus hardness in just about a week or two into pregnancy. On the other hand, if you are on a heavier side, then it might take more time for the uterus to push out against the skin and appear hard.
This tightening of the stomach during pregnancy can be irregular and can occur just for no reason. It generally doesn’t last long, though some women have reported having such a feeling of contraction for as long as 5 minutes. While some women do not feel much discomfort with their contractions, others definitely feel stronger abdomen problems and are also concerned about the stretch marks which start appearing on different parts.
Usually, Braxton Hicks contractions are painless and cause only minor discomfort. As you get nearer to your due date though, you may notice that your contractions are becoming stronger as by this time, the uterus which has grown fully in size, starts pressing against the walls of your stomach thereby giving a harder feeling.
The abdomen tightening feeling that you experience during the first trimester isn’t just there to bother you, it is there for a purpose. These contractions seem to be a part of the stages of pregnancy. It is believed that Braxton Hicks contractions help your body to prepare for actual labor. Without these contractions, your labor contractions would be painful, longer, and less effective during pushing your baby out at the time of labor. That is the reason they are commonly called “practice contractions” as they help your uterus prepare for the contractions it will experience during labor. Braxton Hicks contractions felt later in pregnancy also helps to soften the cervix.
Although, you can’t help this condition, after reading this article you can definitely start looking at it as a temporary phase that you need to sail through to receive enormous joy you would get at the end.