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True Labour Vs False Labour: Signs of Contractions


By the end of third trimester, every pregnant women counts day to delivery so that they can end all the pregnancy discomforts and hold their little bundle of joy. During first time pregnancy, expectant mothers tend to confuse false contractions and stomach cramps as a sign of labour which is quite common. This article will help you differentiate the false labour signs like prelabour contractions from true labour signs: What are Pre-Labour Contractions?

Pre-labour contractions is also known as Braxton Hicks contractions or practice contractions which is frequent in the third trimester of pregnancy. They are the mild uterine contractions which are irregular, sporadic and confuse pregnant women as it resembles the labour symptoms. This is your body’s way of preparing for the real labour contractions.

Differences between Braxton hicks and labour contractions

How do you feel the Contractions?

Contractions are felt in different ways by each pregnant woman but in general, true contractions cause ache in your back and lower abdomen with pressure in the pelvis region. They move in a wave-like pattern from top of the uterus to the bottom. However, pre-labour contractions would feel like a tightening in the abdomen and gets relieved when you change position.

How often do they occur?

True labour contractions occur at regular interval and last for about 30-90 seconds.  As time goes, the interval between contractions reduces and last longer. Braxton Hicks contractions are often irregular and last for a lesser time period.

How strong are these contractions?

The labour contractions are strong and steadily increase in strength as time passes by while prelabour contractions are generally weak and remain the same or initially it may be stronger but over time, it becomes weak.

Do they change with different positions?

True contractions continue and increase as you change the body position or movements while Braxton Hicks contractions stop as you walk, sit or move your body position.

Do they cause pain?

In most women, labour contraction cause pain like menstrual cramps while Braxton Hicks contractions express mild, irregular pain.
If you are in doubt, it is best to reach your gynecologist over the phone or in person to confirm the contractions. If you feel other symptoms like increased vaginal discharge or bloody mucus, consult your doctor right away to get it checked.


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