Skip to main content

Pregnancy... yes, it's not always about roses. The big dream of becoming parents will soon be fulfilled, but in the meantime there are some bumps in the road. For example, you may experience hard contractions during your second and third trimesters. Your uterus is working overtime and reacts to the stimuli from inside and outside. In this blog we tell you all about it and how you can recognize it. Are you reading with us?

What are hard bellies?

Your uterus is a large muscle. And like the other muscles in your body, it contracts and relaxes. During a hard belly, your belly may feel hard or tense. This is because your uterus is contracting and preparing itself, as it were, for delivery. That is why this phenomenon is also called practice contractions. Hard bellies can come on randomly or can be triggered by external stimuli. They usually occur from about week 24 of the pregnancy (Pregnancy Portal, 2020). Hard bellies have no serious consequences for your little one (The Obstetrician, s.d.).

How do you recognize it?

You may experience a tense feeling or cramping in your abdomen. This is not supposed to be painful, but rather uncomfortable. Normally, the tightness or cramp lasts about one minute and is felt mainly at the top of your uterus (Nutricia for you, 2021). Do you experience hard bellies every day? Then your body may be asking you to slow down. Try to outsource some tasks or make obligations less mandatory. Lift your legs and relax! Does it hurt? Then there may be real contractions. Call the midwife immediately. Also call the midwife if you experience loss of blood or amniotic fluid or pain when urinating (Pregnancy Portal, 2020).

The possible causes

Your uterus is already practicing for delivery and this manifests itself in hard bellies or practice contractions. This does not mean that labour is around the corner, unless your due date is almost here. Hard contractions can occur due to your baby moving around a lot, a bladder infection, sex or orgasm, rapid uterine growth, stress, a full bladder, or if you move around too much and too fast (Pregnancy Portal, 2020).

Important: really take your rest! Your body works hard and will have to work even harder in a while (the Obstetrician, s.d.).

What to do about hard bellies?

Lying down regularly can relieve the pressure on your abdomen. Preferably on your left side, this will keep the blood flowing optimally. Take a warm bath or shower, or use a hot water bottle. Warmth helps against this pregnancy ailment. Pay attention to your breathing and do various breathing exercises, read more about this in the next section. this blog. And finally, opt for a belly band or support underwear.

Difference between contractions and hard bellies

The main difference between dilation contractions and hard bellies is the pain and the frequency. A big difference, but we understand that you sometimes wonder if your hard belly is really not a contraction. Hard bellies should not hurt and many a mother can confirm that a contraction definitely hurts. A hard belly comes and goes quickly, but a contraction repeats itself (Nutricia for you, 2021). 

It's useful information to know, but nothing to worry about. Hard bellies are not harmful to you or your baby, they are rather uncomfortable and uncomfortable. So there's no need to panic if your belly feels like a rock, but it is a reason to give your body a break.


The Midwife. (s.d.). Hard bellies. Consulted on July 29, 2021, from

Nutricia for you. (2021, May 6). Hard bellies, or practice contractions

Pregnancy Portal. (2020). Hard bellies.