Even as early as 8 weeks into your pregnancy the uterus begins to generate small contractions, although these are not usually felt until the pregnancy is much further advanced. Braxton Hick contractions become increasingly obvious later on and can be felt as quite strong, although they are not normally painful...
In addition Braxton Hicks contraction are irregular, even if happening frequently, and can last for around a minute.
By contrast true contractions when in labour are regular, and initially shorter. There may also be some back pain, and a feeling which is more like a menstrual cramp.
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