Font Size
A
A
A

Braxton Hicks Contractions


Topic Overview

During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, you may notice episodes when your belly tightens and becomes firm to the touch, then relaxes. These are episodes of tightening (contraction) of the uterine muscles called Braxton Hicks contractions. These normal contractions may be hardly noticeable or may be strong enough to make you stop what you are doing.

Considered "warm-up" exercises for the uterus, Braxton Hicks contractions can begin as early as the 20th week of pregnancy, although most often they start between the 28th and 30th week.

Braxton Hicks contractions are usually infrequent in mid-pregnancy. However, they can be more frequent during the ninth month, sometimes occurring as often as every 10 to 20 minutes.1

Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • Usually disappear during exercise or activity (unlike true labor pains, which continue or increase if you move around).
  • Are more noticeable during rest.

It may be hard to tell the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and true labor. If there is any doubt, consult your health professional.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Maternal physiology. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 107–135. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedJuly 23, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.



NIH talks about Ebola on WebMD


Medical Dictionary