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Are Your Labor Pains the Real Deal? How You Can Tell

By HERWriter
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Are Your Labor Pains for Real? How to Tell MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

False labor pains are also known as Braxton Hicks contractions.  These contractions may arrive after the midpoint of your pregnancy and increase with frequency until the day you give birth.

These false labor pains occur because they are preparing your body for the real thing.  Here are some main difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and real labor pains.

 Braxton Hicks contractions:

· Are usually only felt in the front of the abdomen or pelvic region

 · Are often irregular and do not get closer together

 · Are usually weak and don't get much stronger, or they may be strong at first and then get weaker

 · Are often irregular and do not get closer together

Real labor pains:

 · Usually start in the lower back and move to the front of the abdomen

 · Come at regular intervals and last about 30-70 seconds, getting closer together as time goes on

 · Steadily increase in strength

 · Continue despite movement or changing positions

 Other signs that you are in labor:

 · If your water breaks, you can’t stop the fluid, unlike urination which you can control

 · Discharge of the mucus plug which is stringy and gelatin-like in texture, with streaks of blood

 There are a few things you can do to see if you're suffering false labor pains.  One is to change positions.  For example, if you are standing, sit or lie down. If you are sitting, stand up and walk around. 

Dehydration can cause false labor pains, so it is important to stay hydrated. 

False labor pains can be used as a trial run of the real thing.  Practice your visualization and breathing techniques during false labor pains.

 If the contractions grow stronger or if you have any type of vaginal discharge, contact your health care professional immediately. 

If you are less than 37 weeks into your pregnancy and have any symptoms of contractions, you need to head over to the emergency room and contact your doctor.

The What to Expect When Your Expecting website offers some clear advice in regards to labor pains. "Check it out, when in doubt."


"Labor: Is It True Labor, False Labor, or Braxton Hicks Contractions." - BabyMed. Web. 11 Aug. 2014. 

 "Contractions During Pregnancy, or Braxton Hicks Contractions." Whattoexpect.  Web. 11 Aug. 2014. 

Reviewed August 12, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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