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False Labor — Sings, Symptoms and Causes

calendarJuly 26, 2016

False labor symptoms

In the last weeks of pregnancy (38 weeks - 40 weeks), your body might produce false signs which will make you think that you are going to give birth soon. There are ways to recognize real labor and to cope with the false labor signs and the discomfort which they will cause you.

What is False Labor?

With the approaching of labor, the Braxton Hicks contractions that you already know very well will become to look more like real ones. The difference is that the false labor contractions will not cause significant and progressive dilation of your cervix. This is the role of the real contractions which let the baby exit. Have in mind that not all of pregnant women have false labor signs. Sometimes, the real contractions appear with little or no warning. This is why you should be able to recognize when everything is real and labor is close.

False Labor vs Real Labor

It might be difficult to make the difference between false labor and the early signs of the true one. If you are in Week 37 of pregnancy or later, pay attention to the following things:

  • False labor pains and contractions have no pattern and they are totally unpredictable. They will have absolutely irregular intervals and will vary a lot in their length and intensity. On the other side, the real contractions might be irregular at first but then they will start to appear at regular and shorter intervals. They will also become much more intense, and will last for a longer period of time.
  • The false labor pains appearing with the contractions are usually centered in the lower abdomen. The pain caused by real labor starts in the lower back and then wraps around the abdomen.
  • False labor contractions might disappear when you change your position. True labor contractions will not be affected by this and will not stop.

What to Do if You Feel Contractions?

If you feel something that you consider to be real contractions during labor and you have not still reached week 37 of pregnancy, call your doctor immediately. This might be a case of a preterm labor and it requires urgent medical attention. If you are after Week 37 and consider that you have real contractions, wait for a little and see if they have a specific pattern. If the contractions tend to appear at smaller interval and become more intense, then call the doctor. You are probably going to deliver the baby soon.

What Does False Labor Feel Like?

Braxton Hicks contractions create a feeling of tightening in the abdomen that comes and goes unexpectedly. Some pregnant women describe them as mild menstrual cramps. They will only make you feel uncomfortable but will not cause labor or open the cervix. That is why it is not necessary to go to the hospital because of them.

How to Recognize the Braxton Hicks Contractions?

In comparison with the real contractions, the Braxton Hicks contractions as false labor symptoms:

  • usually do not cause pain;
  • are irregular and do not follow a specific time pattern;
  • do not appear more and more often, at smaller intervals;
  • do not become stronger and longer over time;
  • do not increase their strength when you walk.

The Braxton Hicks false labor contractions might appear during the third trimester or even during the second one. It is normal to have them and there is not a reason to worry or to rush to the hospital.

How to Feel Better During the False Alarm Labor?

There are a few things that you can and should try in order to feel better. First, try to take a walk. Unlike real contractions, the false ones often stop when you change your position or get up and move around. A massage, a warm bath or some rest and sleep might also help release the false labor pain.

Is There Abdominal Pain That Does Not Mean Labor?

False alarm labor

Round ligament pain could appear and it does not mean that you are in labor. It comes from the ligaments that support your uterus and attach to the pelvis. This pain will appear when you move and usually lasts a few seconds or minutes.

Real Contractions

True labor does not feel the same way for all pregnant women. So, nobody can tell you for sure what is going to happen in your body during labor. Still, there are some common signs of labor such as contractions. The real ones will probably cause you pain and pressure in the pelvis and an unpleasant feeling in your back or lower abdomen. Pain might also appear in the thighs and the sides and thighs.

A way to recognize whether they are true signs that labor has started is to check if they appear at regular intervals. Pay attention also whether they increase in frequency and intensity. These features make them different from the Braxton Hicks contractions which are irregular and appear spontaneously, find out more about the first stage of labor.

What Do Real Contractions Feel Like?

Some women describe them to be as strong as the menstrual cramps. For others, they feel like strong waves, just like the diarrhea cramps.

The Moment to Call the Doctor

You should call your health specialist when you notice some of the following signs:

  • Strong contractions which appear every 5 minutes for an hour and make it very difficult for you to walk.
  • A vaginal bleeding.
  • When your water breaks.
  • A significant change in the movement of the baby, or the opposite condition - if you feel less than 10 movements in 2-hours period.
  • A feeling of pain or tightness in the area of the lower back. This is the so-called back labor.
  • Strong pressure around the pelvis.
  • Cramps similar the menstrual ones.
  • Flu-like symptoms;
  • Diarrhea, vomiting or nausea.

Do not hesitate to contact your doctor if anything bothers you. Even if your symptoms appear to be signs of false labor, it is better your health specialist to be informed what is going on with you and the baby.

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