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How To Differentiate Between Labour Pain and False Contractions?

Reviewed by
Dr. Richa Gupta 90% (63 ratings)
MBBS, DGO, FICOG, Master of Population Studies (MPS)
Gynaecologist, Ghaziabad  •  24 years experience
How To Differentiate Between Labour Pain and False Contractions?

It is likely for you to experience false labour pain or false contractions before the beginning of true labour during pregnancy. This is called Braxton Hicks contractions, and it is the way of telling the body to get ready for the real labour pain on the day of giving birth. However, these false contractions do not indicate that the labour has started or will begin shortly.

How do false labour contractions feel like?
Women may get a tightening feeling in their abdomen, which comes and goes away, due to Braxton Hicks or false labor contractions. These false contractions may feel like menstrual cramps. These contractions are unlike true labour and usually do not cause pain. They do not occur regularly and do not get closer together. They do not last for very long or get worse with time. These false contractions may be felt during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.

The difference between Braxton Hicks and true labor contractions
There are several differences between true labor pain and false labour contractions. These are as follows:

  1. Comparing how often these contractions occur allows us to differentiate between true labour pains and false contractions. False labour contractions are irregular while true contractions occur at regular intervals. They last for over a minute, and they get stronger and closer with the passage of time.
  2. The change in these contractions are based on your movement, which allows us to differentiate between the two types. False labour contractions may end when you take a walk or rest, and stop when you change your position. In case of true labour pains, the contractions keep on continuing irrespective of any kind of movement or change in position. They do not stop even when you take some rest.
  3. The strength of true labour pain and false contractions is different. False labor contractions are weak in general and there are less chances of them getting worse. They are stronger in the beginning and gradually weaken. However, true labour contractions get increasingly stronger with time.
  4. We can differentiate between the two types of contractions on the basis of the areas which are affected with pain. False labour contractions only cause slight pain in the front part of the abdomen and the pelvis. True labour pain is much more intensive in nature. They usually begin from the lower back and move to the front abdomen region. They may start in the abdomen and move back as well.

If you are not sure and cannot differentiate between true labour pains and Braxton Hicks contractions, it is essential for you to consult a doctor. A doctor will be able to identify the true nature of the contractions.

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