false labor

False Labor Vs Real Labor – How To Spot The Difference

Every pregnant mom is very anxious about her pregnancy. Due to which she may misinterpret a false labor to be a real labor. Whether it is a normal contraction, or an indication of a real labor, it is hard to describe to someone who has had not experienced pregnancy before. Thus, the first timer moms come across the confusion of real and false labor. To help you out, we are here sharing information on how you can distinguish between a false labor, and a real labor easily.

What is false labor?

Before a pregnant woman experiences true contractions, she feels some false contractions. These are also called as practice contractions. With these contractions the uterus does a practice of contracting, or toning up to prepare for real labor. Such type of contractions doesn’t lead to any pain. They are perceived to a tightening sensation in your uterus that begins to happen quite frequently with the nearing of your due date.

What are the differences between a false labor, and a real labor?

Timing: Unlike real labor that are seen to happen at regular intervals of time, false contractions are quite irregular in their occurrence. So, the key thing to understand is the pattern of your contractions. False labor generally starts sooner than the actual labor. You may experience them in the beginning of the 2nd, and 3rd trimester of pregnancy.

Real labor begins in the later stages of pregnancy i.e., when you reach the third trimester of your pregnancy. These are extremely painful contractions that impacts both your lower abdomen, and back.

Strength: In addition to the timing of the contraction, another thing that you need to consider is the strength of your contraction. Where real labor is painful and extremely intense, false contraction only gives you a feeling of tightness without any pain.

The intensity of the false labor contractions generally changes with the changes in the positions of the body. These contractions changes as you walk, lay down, sit or stand. Real contractions continue irrespective of the change in your body’s position.

False labor can either start strong, and get milder with time, or vice versa. Real labor, on the other hand, gets stronger as the time progresses. It precedes delivery, and advances from slight contractions to heavy labor pains, and concludes in the delivery of the baby.

Pain: Where in real labor, you feel the pain throughout your lower region, in false contraction, you feel contraction only in the lower abdomen, and not in the lower back area. In case of real labor, contractions begin in the back and gain strength. From back, they progress to the front. It goes till 30 seconds to 70 seconds. This is another indication that can help you distinguish between a real and false labor.

Duration: The real contraction happens at regular intervals of time. They appear in every five minutes. A single contraction is around one minute long.

Other signs to consider: Here are a few other signs that you may observe when you have a real labor.

  • You may notice that the water breaks, and membranes break.
  • You may also feel discharge of amniotic fluid from a sac like structure that encloses the baby. This is just an indication that you are approaching labor.
  • When the labor is near, you may even see a bloody show. This happens when the cervical change happens in the body
  • Vomiting, or nausea can happen if you experience that contractions are becoming intense and there are modifications in hormones
  • In real labor, you may also experience vaginal tearing. It can lead to an intense discomfort

Seek professional assistance

It is always best to seek medical assistance immediately when you relate to any of the signs of real labor. Also, if you notice bleeding, reduced fetal movement, five or more painful contractions, and / or leaking fluid signs before 37th week of your pregnancy, then it is important to rush to your doctor.

Also read: Natural Ways To Induce Labor


Labor is an event that you experience in your last trimester of pregnancy. You will experience the joy of delivery, but also scared of bearing labor pains. Though, it is hard to tell what a contraction feels like to someone who hasn’t felt it before, it is possible to interpret them with prior knowledge about their nature, and occurrence. So, if it is your first time of getting pregnant, use the above differences to distinguish between a real and false labor.

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