As an expectant mother, you might look forward to your approaching due date with excitement tinged with a little anxiety. You might, in your excitement, mistake signs of false labour as the real thing only to be disappointed.
False labour, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions (named after a19th century English doctor who discovered them), or practice contractions are the irregular and weak tightening of your uterus during your pregnancy. This is normal and indicates that your uterus is contracting in preparation for giving birth. They help in blood circulation and tone the muscles in your uterus.
Below is a list of signs that can help you decide whether the contractions are false or it is actually time for the baby to arrive:
- Irregular Contractions: Braxton Hicks contractions can happen even a week after your due date. You can tell they are false because they are irregular. In actual early labour, your contractions will be 10 to 40 seconds long and will recur every 20 to 30 minutes. As you progress, your contractions will grow more regular.
- Cervix not dilating and contractions not progressing: If your contractions are not increasing in duration and not coming frequently, you might not yet be ready to rush to the doctor. The regular contractions are needed for your cervix to soften and dilate in preparation for birth.
- Abdominal Pain: During false labour, you will feel pain in your lower abdomen. During real labour, you will experience pain in your lower back that is different from regular pregnancy pain.
In order to alleviate the signs of false labour, you can try the following:
- Keep your feet up and sit for a while.
- Drink lots of water.
- Take a walk.
- Change your position or the activity you were doing.
- Take rest or sleep for some time.
- Take a bath and relax.
- Get a light body massage.
- Pass urine if you have a full bladder.
- Breathe rhythmically, breathing long and slow.
- Lie down on your left side for a while.
If you have any doubts at all about whether what you are experiencing is normal or not, do not hesitate to speak with your doctor for the sake of your baby’s and your own safety and good health.