Braxton Hicks Contractions: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 4/12/2021

Braxton Hicks contractions are contractions in the uterus that occur during the third trimester of pregnancy. They are sometimes referred to as false labor. In some women, they can occur as early as the second trimester.

Symptoms of Braxton Hicks contractions include

  • mild contractions that don't cause actual pain,
  • a sensation that might resemble menstrual cramps, and
  • cramps that usually last between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.

Unlike true labor pains, these contractions are irregular, sporadic, and do not occur in a pattern. Braxton Hicks contractions do not get stronger over time like true labor contractions do and may disappear for a time.

Cause of Braxton Hicks contractions

They are a normal occurrence and are believed to be caused by preparation by the uterus for the upcoming birth.

Other braxton hicks contractions symptoms and signs

  • Cramps That Usually Last Between 30 Seconds and 2 Minutes
  • Mild Contractions That Don't Cause Actual Pain
  • Sensation That Might Resemble Menstrual Cramps


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.