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They are contractions that usually begin during your third trimester but some women may even experience them as early as their second month. They prepare your body for real contractions. Its been said that without them labor would take much longer and be more painful. They don't have a specific pattern and usually only last about a minute. They shouldn't be painful, but some women find them to be uncomfortable. You can get a lot of information on it if you google braxton hicks contractions. Hope this helped some.