WJMC - West Jefferson Medical Center

WJMC - West Jefferson Medical Center

The difference between true labor and false labor:


Most expectant mothers experience uterine contractions before the onset of true labor. These Braxton-Hicks contractions or practice contractions can occur almost any time during the pregnancy, but are more common during the last few weeks before delivery. Sometimes it is very difficult to tell the difference between the practice contractions and true labor. Listed below are some of the differences between Braxton Hicks contractions (practice contractions or false labor) and true labor. Regardless of your expected delivery date, if you think you are having contractions stop what you are doing and time your contractions. As you time your contractions, compare your contractions with the ones described below. If you think you are in labor, follow your doctor’s instructions. If you are not sure, call your doctor and follow his/her instructions.

True Labor False Labor
Contractions become stronger, last longer and come closer together as labor progresses Contractions stay the same or lessen in intensity
Changes in mother's activity do not effect contractions Rest or a warm shower slows down the frequency and intensity of contractions
Walking tends to make the contractions stronger Walking tends to make the contractions less frequent
Uterus hardens over the entire surface Only portions of the uterus hardens
A pink or bloody vaginal discharge or "show" may be present No change in vaginal discharge or secretions
Contractions often felt more in the back Contractions felt more in the abdomen


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