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What are Braxton Hicks contractions?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Braxton Hick contractions, also known as false labor are irregular, infrequent tightening of the uterine muscle that begins in the second trimester of pregnancy. Braxton Hicks contractions are characterized by:

  • Unpredictable onset
  • Irregular intensity
  • Non-rhythmic
  • No increase in intensity or frequency
  • Diminish and then stop, often with change in position or activity

During the third trimester, you will probably start to feel some mild contractions. Your abdomen will get hard and tight, then relax and soften. These irregular and mild contractions, called Braxton-Hicks contractions, help prepare your body for labor. Changing position, increasing fluids and resting on your side can help if these become bothersome. If you still have painful contractions after trying these measures for more than one hour, be sure to call your doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.