False labor pains or Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular uterine contractions that can be felt by a pregnant woman starting in the 4th month of pregnancy. It is characterized by sudden tightening of the abdomen that last for a few seconds then disappears. These contractions do not occur consecutively, and the intensity does not increase over time. It may also be felt more on the lower abdomen than in the back. False labor can stop with rest, change of position or any activity and lastly, accompanied by the movement of your baby.
False labor can be differentiated from “True Labor” in such the latter has increasing frequency and intensity as time goes by. These contractions may cause back and lower abdomen pressure or pain. Also, it results to the dilatation of the cervix and delivery of the baby
Importance of avoiding false alarms
Not knowing if you are having labor contractions may be troublesome, not only in your personal life but in your social life and even your career too. It may be a cause of lost sleep, canceled activities, and unnecessary visits to the hospital or lying in a clinic just to verify if you are truly experiencing false labor. All these hassles just to know if your baby is due to be delivered already.
False labor can be exhausting or even annoying especially when experienced over a period of days. Knowing whether or not you are having false labor or true labor will help you make good decisions with regards to your labor and birth. It can even save you from spending too much money on having pre-natal checkups and medical interventions that are uncalled for.
Signs of false labor
It is important to take note of the difference between false and true labor to minimize unnecessary visits to the doctor. Here are some signs that you are experiencing true labor:
1. No bloody show
You didn’t see a blood tinged mucus in your undies meaning that your cervix is still closed and the mucous plug on it is still intact.
2. Pain localized in the lower abdomen
In true labor, pain may start in the lower back and can wrap around your abdomen putting pressure on your pelvis.
3. Subsides with rest or activity
False labor usually stops on its own or may also be due to rest, change of activity or position. While true labor persists and progresses in intensity and frequency.
4. Pool of ammonia-like fluid
When a fluid suddenly trickles down your legs and it is too odorous, it means that your water didn’t break and it is usually urine that’s coming out. During true labor, the amniotic fluid that comes out of your vagina is clear and is odorless.
5. Irregular contractions
Irregular contractions that do not increase in intensity and can be relieved by rest/activity are a sign of false labor.
Triggers of false labor
False labor may start due to the following:
• Strenuous physical activities such as climbing a flight of stairs.
• Having sexual intercourse
• Full bladder upon waking up in the morning
• If you are down with a fever or dehydrated
• Movement of your fetus inside the womb.
Summary table of false vs true labor
When to go to the hospital
Make sure to visit or go to the nearest hospital when you experience any red flags of pregnancy such as:
• Presence of bright red vaginal bleeding
• Continuous leakage of fluid from the vagina or if you feel like your water has broken.
• Strong and continuous contractions that happen every 5 minutes for 1 hour.
• Contractions that can’t be relieved by walking, activity or even resting.
• Change in the movement of your baby and if you feel like movements are <10 within an hour.