With the approach of the due date, the Braxton Hicks contraction that may be present and that may have been painless and infrequent earlier becomes stronger and more regular and even painful. This could make you think that you are in labour, but the difference between labour and false labour is that false labour does not show the other signs of progression of labour.
Sometimes it may be difficult to distinguish between false labour and real labour. Given below are some signs that may help to know if it is the real thing or just a false alarm.
False labour versus the true labour
- False labour contractions come at irregular intervals and are unpredictable. Both true and false labour begin with contractions that are not rhythmic or regular, but as true labour progresses the contractions come at shorter and regular intervals. False labour remains unpredictable, sometimes coming at short intervals which may then become longer and even disappear altogether.
- Keep a record of how long each contraction lasts. The contractions during true labour, last about thirty seconds at the beginning and as labour progresses the length keeps on increasing to sixty seconds or so. The intensity of the contractions also keeps increasing. False labour contractions, however, vary both in length and intensity building up to short and sharp contractions and then decreasing in intensity and length.
- If the contractions decrease with activity or change in position, then this is an indication of false labour. This is the reason why women are advised to move around, or even take a warm shower when contractions are felt. The contractions may go away if it is not the real labour. Even without any activity though, the contractions of false labour will go away. Contractions during true labour are unaffected by the mother’s activity and continues becoming stronger over time.
- False labour contractions are usually felt in the lower abdomen and genital area. Whereas in true labour, the pain may begin in the lower back and radiate throughout the entire back and abdomen.
But even after experiencing these signs of labour, you can’t be sure if you are actually in labour. If the pregnancy is less than thirty-seven weeks, then call your doctor or go to the hospital to rule out pre-term labour. If over thirty-seven weeks, then you can wait and watch keeping in mind the above to see if you are really in labour, unless your physician has advised otherwise.
Sometimes women may have painful contractions for days with no cervical changes. False labour contractions can be exhausting and give rise to anxiety. In case, of any question or concern call the doctor as it is better and safer to ask and be reassured instead of waiting and worrying.