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Definition of Braxton Hicks contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions: Irregular contractions of the womb (the uterus) occurring towards the middle of pregnancy in the first pregnancy and, earlier and more intensely, in subsequent pregnancies.

These contractions tend to occur during physical activity. The uterus tightens for 30 to 60 seconds beginning at the top of the uterus; and the contraction gradually spreads downward before relaxing. Although said to be painless, Braxton Hicks contractions may be quite uncomfortable and sometimes difficult to distinguish from true labor contractions.

Not named for a Dr. Braxton and a Dr. Hicks but for John Braxton Hicks (1823-1897), a British gynecologist.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=15845
Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012

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