Pulsed-wave Doppler ultrasound was used to evaluate the influence of Braxton Hicks’ contractions on flow velocity waveforms in the uterine arteries. Flow velocity waveforms were obtained from a standardized site, at the crossing of the uterine artery with the external iliac artery near the uterine wall. Doppler signals were recorded in 16 healthy near-term nulliparous pregnant women. During Braxton Hicks’ contractions, a considerable increase in pulsatility index (PI) was found in the uterine arteries increasing from 0.71 ± 0.21 (mean ± SD) to 1.14 ± 0.67 (p < 0.005). Maternal heart rate decreased slightly but significantly during contractions. Despite the high PI values that were found during Braxton Hicks’ contractions, a diastolic notch in the flow velocity waveform was never noticed. The findings indicate that during Braxton Hicks’ contractions, resistance to blood flow in the uteroplacental circulation is considerably increased.

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