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What are Braxton Hicks contractions?

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

Sporadic womb contractions begin as early as 6 weeks into a pregnancy although

the majority of women do not feel them until after 20 weeks. Described as Braxton Hicks contractions, these are usually painless, infrequent and irregular.

Many women describe these contractions as the feeling of tightenings in the lower abdominal area and/or groin. They tend to become more frequent as pregnancy progresses. They are thought to be “warm-up” contractions to prepare the womb eventually for labour.

When a pregnant mother approaches her delivery date, Braxton Hicks contractions may become more rhythmic and occasionally painful. This may give the woman a false impression that she might be going into labour.

If this happens before 37 weeks, or if they are additional symptoms such as bleeding or bloody discharge from the vagina, it may be important for the woman to seek urgent medical attention to rule out the possibility of premature labour.


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