Are You Having a Contraction?

Do Not Panic: It May Just Be False Labor

Every expectant mother counts down to the day when she will finally deliver her bundle of joy. After the long nine months, coupled with periods of tiredness and restlessness, delivery comes as a sigh of relief.

As the mother-to-be nears her due date, she may experience episodes of false labor pains, and this may make her panic. 

Understanding False Labour

The false labor pains are what is referred to as Braxton-hicks contractions. They take place when the womb contracts and tightens with the baby bump making it hard to touch. It then relaxes again and becomes soft. They could start in the 20th week into the pregnancy as it progresses and signals that your body is preparing itself for the actual labor.

Braxton-hicks contractions increase in frequency as their pregnancy progresses. 

How can I tell when it’s false or real?

For any mum-to-be, it is important to have information that may help her distinguish between Braxton-hicks contractions and real labor.

  • Timing contractions – First, you need to monitor the timing of the contractions. Braxton-Hicks contractions tend to be irregular, while real labor contractions tend to follow a regular pattern. 
  • Length & Intensity – the length of the contractions also matters. Braxton-Hicks contractions can be short or long, and they also vary in intensity. Real labor contractions, on the other hand, do not decrease but tend to last for 30 seconds or even longer.
  • Location affected – It is also critical to monitor the location of where the contractions are happening. If you feel painful contractions just around the front of your belly, then you are probably experiencing false labor. Labor pain usually starts in the back and moves towards the front.
  • Shifting Position – Braxton-Hicks contractions will often stop or decrease when you move from one position to another; perhaps when you were sitting, then you decide to stand. However, when it’s real labor, the contractions will continue even if you try to find a comfortable position.

If you feel that the pains are so intense and are making you restless, it is best to seek medical attention. Do not worry even if you make that trip to the hospital and are told that it is just false labor and you have to go back home and wait for the actual thing. Pregnancy is a delicate period and it is better to be safe than sorry!


# Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last Review January 2019

Sources: tommys, motherhood, babygaga

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