Braxton Hicks contractions are a painless but sometimes
uncomfortable tightening of the uterus. The contractions may be mild enough to
go unnoticed or may be strong enough to make the woman stop what she is
Braxton Hicks contractions might be considered "warm-up exercises"
for the uterus during pregnancy. They can begin as early as the 20th week and
increase through the 40th week (9th month) of pregnancy.
It is often hard to tell the difference between true labor and
Braxton Hicks contractions. Braxton Hicks contractions:
Tend to be irregular and vary in strength and
do not become more regular or stronger.
Are more noticeable when
the woman is resting.
Usually disappear with exercise (true labor
pains may continue or increase if the woman walks around).
less than 4 times per hour.
True labor pains tend to last longer, become stronger, and occur
closer together than Braxton Hicks contractions.
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.