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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.footnote 1
Braxton Hicks contractions:
It may be hard to tell the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and true labor. If there is any doubt, consult your health professional.
Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Maternal physiology. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 107-135. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSarah A. Marshall, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology
Current as ofNovember 21, 2017
Current as of:
November 21, 2017
Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology
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