False Labour vs Real Labour | NextMamas.

False Labour vs Real Labour

Every pregnant mom is very anxious about her pregnancy. Due to this, she may misinterpret false labor to be real labor. Whether it is a normal contraction or an indication of real labor, it is hard to describe to someone who has hot experienced pregnancy before. Thus,  first-timer moms come across the confusion of real and false labor. To help you out, we are here to share 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 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 as a tightening sensation in your uterus that begins to happen quite frequently with the nearing of your due date.

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


Unlike real labor which is 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 at the beginning of the and, 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 impact both your lower abdomen and back.


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 change 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 time progresses. It precedes delivery, advances from slight contractions to heavy labor pains, and concludes with the delivery of the baby.


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 the case of real labor, contractions begin in the back and gain strength. From the back, they progress to the front. It goes from 30 seconds to 70 seconds. This is another indication that can help you distinguish between real and false labor.


The real contraction happens at regular intervals of time. They appear 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 real labor.

  • You may notice that the water breaks, and membranes break.
  • You may also feel the 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 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 the 37th week of your pregnancy, then it is important to rush to your doctor.

Author: Dr. Iram Gill

Dr. Iram Gill is an MBBS doctor by profession and a Content Writer by passion. She is a mother as well and has observed the health-related challenges faced by mothers and babies. She wants to play her part in increasing access and support for breastfeeding and maternal health problems.


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