True vs. False Labor
Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
Before “true” labor begins, you might have “false” labor pains, also known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. These irregular uterine contractions are perfectly normal and might start to occur from your fourth month of pregnancy. They are your body’s way of getting ready for the “real thing”.
What do Braxton Hicks contractions feel like?
Braxton Hicks contractions can be described as tightening in the abdomen that comes and goes. These contractions do not get closer together, do not increase with walking, do not increase in how long they last or how often they occur, and do not feel stronger over time.
What do true labor contractions feel like?
The way a contraction feels is different for each woman and might feel different from one pregnancy to the next. Labor contractions cause discomfort or a dull ache in your back and lower abdomen, along with pressure in the pelvis. Some women might also feel pain in their sides and thighs. Some women describe contractions as strong menstrual cramps, while others describe them as strong waves that feel like diarrhea cramps.
So how do you know when your contractions are the “real thing”?
- Contractions come at regular intervals and get closer together as time goes on.
- Contractions continue, despite moving or changing positions.
- Contractions steadily increase in strength.
- Contractions usually start in the lower back and move to the front of the abdomen.
What should I do when I have Braxton Hicks contractions?
- Take a walk. False labor contractions often stop when you change position or get up and walk.
- Get some sleep or rest.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Drink water, juice or herbal tea.
- Eat a snack or small meal.
- Get a foot or hand massage from your partner.
- Ask someone to massage your back and shoulders.
- Got to your favorite place in your home and slowly relax each part of your body.
- Watch a movie.
As your contractions get stronger:
- Take a warm shower or tub bath.
- Rock in a rocking chair.
- Change positions often.
- Ask your partner for some positive feedback.
- Rest between contractions. Imagine yourself relaxing in your favorite vacation spot.
- During contractions, take in slow, deep, easy breaths.
- Sit on a chair and lean forward.
- Ask your partner to press firmly on the area where you feel the greatest pressure or pain.
- Get on your hands and knees and arch your back then flatten it and repeat several times.
- Try warm or cold compresses on your lower back.
- Ask your partner to try rolling a beverage can, tennis ball or rolling pin on your lower back.
It is essential to call your health care provider at any time if you have:
- Bright red vaginal bleeding
- Continuous leaking of fluid or wetness, or if your water breaks (can be felt as a “gushing” of fluid).
- Strong contractions every five minutes for an hour.
- Contractions that you are unable to “walk through”.
- A noticeable change in your baby’s movement or if you fell less than 10 movements in two hours or less.
Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
- Colds and Pregnancy
- Dental Care During Pregnancy
- Exercise During Pregnancy
- Genetic Screening
- Genetic Screening - Early Pregnancy
- Good Nutrition During Pregnancy for You and Your Baby
- Heartburn During Pregnancy
- How Smoking Affects You and Your Baby During Pregnancy
- How to Cope With the Physical Discomforts of Pregnancy
- Medicine Guidelines During Pregnancy
- Prenatal Care: Your First Visit
- Prenatal Ultrasound
- Prenatal Vitamins
- Sex During Pregnancy
- Sleep During Pregnancy
- STDs: What You Need to Know
- The Latest on Using Alternative Therapies in Pregnancy
- Toxoplasmosis in Pregnancy
- Travel During Pregnancy
- Vaccination During Pregnancy
- What You Need to Know About HIV Testing
- When to Call Your Health Care Provider During Pregnancy
- Depression During Pregnancy
- Finding a Comfortable Position
- Increasing Calcium in Your Diet During Pregnancy
- Increasing Iron in Your Diet During Pregnancy
- Oral Glucose Test During Pregnancy
- Assisted Delivery
- Cesarean Birth
- Contraception During Breastfeeding
- Group Streptococcus and Pregnancy
- Pain Relief Options During Childbirth
- Premature Labor
- True Versus False Labor
- Vaginal Delivery After Cesarean Birth
- What to Pack for the Hospital
- Your Birth Day: What to Expect During Labor