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False Labor Pains- 8 Ways To Know This Is Not Real Pain

by Ambili S Kartha

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expertsExpert Validated By : Dr. Ankita Patel Tayal
False Labor Pains- 8 Ways To Know This Is Not Real Pain

You might be excited, exhausted and also curious when your due date is just around the corner. You will be monitoring every new cramp and every new ache. However, not all the pains you have are real labor pains. Find out what is false labor pain and eight ways to know this is not real pain.

Know that before the real labor starts, it’s quite normal to have false contractions. It’s the body’s way of getting ready for the real labor. However, according to several mothers, most of the time, it might feel contractions during the first stage of labor.

False labor is also known as prodromal labor. It differs from Braxton hick’s contraction as well. Nevertheless, like Braxton hick’s contraction, these early contractions also help prepare you and your body for the labor ahead.

Differentiating real pain from false pain is counted as one of the ‘end-of-pregnancy’ challenges. It will help the women not to rush to the hospital, thinking they are in labor.  Going to the hospital and being told it is just a false alarm and being sent back home to wait further can be quite frustrating for expecting mothers, especially first time mothers.

What Are False Labor Pains?

Our panel gynaecologist and practising obstetrician Dr Ankita Patel Tayal says that Prodromal labor or false labor sets in with contractions that can be somewhat regular. If you have heard or read about them, you’d know they would be as painful as active labor. The contractions are spaced out 5-10 minutes apart, and you might just feel its time.

False labor pain will be more similar to active labor pain than Braxton Hicks contractions. Each contraction can last up to one minute. Prodromal labor can be really excruciating and exhausting to deal with. It may not appear in all pregnancies though.

False labor pains are preparatory, in a way. Because the baby needs to be in a suitable birthing position, prodromal labor helps in just that. False labor pain prepares the muscles and ligaments associated with active labor. It also trains the pelvis for active labor.

Related Reading: 7 Risks Of Inducing Labor You Must Know About

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Moreover, it acts as a sort of teaser for the labor pains that the mother will have to endure during delivery. Although prodromal labor shares many of the hallmark aspects of active labor, it is not strong enough to bring on active labor’s cervical changes.

What Causes Prodromal Labor?

What Causes Prodromal Labor

What brings about false labor or prodromal labor is yet to be found.  However, researchers have the same opinion that prodromal labor is the body’s way of preparing for active labor.

Even though a definite cause is not found yet, there are several potential contributing factors to false labor.

Prodromal pain is more likely to be experienced when the baby is in a breech position. It is believed that false labor pain during this situation is the attempt of the uterus to move the baby to a good position via contraction.

Prodromal labor is more common in moms who have had at least three children. Therefore it is believed that multiple pregnancies and deliveries can bring about some minute changes in the way the uterine muscle contracts or relaxes, which can contribute to false labor pains.

Some physical factors, like uterine abnormality, uneven pelvis, etc., can contribute to false pain. Sharp emotional changes that happen during pregnancy like uncontrollable fear, anxiety, worry, stress, etc. can also trigger false labor pain. After all, everything is hormonal when it comes to pregnancy.

Is False Labor And Braxton Hicks Contraction Same?

Prodromal labor can be easily mistaken for Braxton-Hicks contractions. However, they’re different. The only similarity is both are practice contractions of the body for the upcoming real labor.

A majority of pregnant women experience Braxton hick’s contraction at some stage during their pregnancy. But prodromal labor is not experienced by women as common as Braxton hicks.

While Braxton Hicks contractions usually begin earlier in pregnancy, prodromal labor appears towards the end of pregnancy. While Braxton hicks more of repeat in subsequent pregnancies, false labor may not repeat in successive pregnancies.

Braxton-Hicks contractions, like prodromal labor, give tight and uncomfortable sensation; however, they’re not as regular or intense as false labor. They also never last longer as false labor. Therefore, it won’t mimic real labor as prodromal labor.

Even though not always, it is possible for the cervix to lightly efface during prodromal labor. However, this never happens with Braxton-Hicks contractions.

When Does False Labor Start?

False labor or prodromal labor starts to appear and disappear for weeks or even a month or more before the due date. Also, false labor can even fool an experienced mom as they often come in the evening, when real labor often begins as well.

Related Reading: 12 Important And Practical Tips For Normal Delivery

It usually begins towards the end of pregnancy. However, sometimes it starts to appear towards the end of the second trimester or the beginning of the third trimester.  The good news is that prodromal labor causes no harm to you or your baby. 

How Long Does False Labor last?

First of all, the term “false labor” may misinterpret it is not that painful.  However, unlike other practice contractions like Braxton hicks, false labor really mimics the active labor in terms of pain and contraction. The only difference is that it will stop for a day or two and then appear again rather than continued pain as in real labor.

Prodromal labor, in most cases, lasts a few days. However, it can also even last for weeks or even a month. Another interesting fact is that false labor pains more often start and stop at regular intervals. That is, it usually appears at the same time every day or other day.

Does False Labor Lead To Real Labor?

False labor is not a sign of immediately approaching real labor. On the other hand, it is just a practice contraction of the body. However, the prodromal pain lasts longer and feels more intense and more often used to appear towards the end of the pregnancy.

Because of this, the real labor may start without much delay after the appearance of false labor. This gives the impression that false labor leads to real labor, which is not true.

Sometimes, prodromal labor may start towards the beginning of the third trimester or end of the second trimester. In such a case, the active labor will appear after months. So false labor won’t lead to real labor.

The good news is that every step of real labor tends to happen quite quickly among many women who experience a long prodromal phase. 

How To Know False Labor Pains From Real Labor Pains?

How To Know False Labor Pains From Real Labor Pains

It is not impossible to distinguish false labor from real labor. However,  for first-time mothers, or if the mother does not experience prodromal labor in her previous pregnancy, the best way to make out if it is false or real is to call the doctor and discuss your symptoms.

Prodromal labor mimics real labor in many aspects. Like active labor, its contractions can be intense and painful. False labor can trigger contractions that are close and could go on for more than an hour.

However, there are some important characteristics of real labor pain that false labor pain lacks. First of all, active or real labor pain comes with other signs of labor like bleeding, water leak, etc. Likewise, real labor contractions are closer, intense, and prolonged.

8 Ways To Know What You Are Experiencing Is False Labor Pain

Many mothers think it is hard to pinpoint the actual onset of labor when there is more than one type of practice contractions, especially towards the end of the pregnancy. Prodromal labor can be placed anywhere between Braxton Hicks and real labor contractions.

However, there are many ways to distinguish false labor pain from active labor. Here are 8 ways as told by Dr Ankita Patel Tayal, MD Obs & Gynae, to know what you are experiencing is false labor pain:

1. Non progressing contractions: The main characteristic of prodromal labor is that the contractions will not be progressing and not will be the pain either. It appears and disappears.  However, the prodromal labor contractions can increase in intensity, but only up to a certain limit

2. Timing: Unlike the active labor pain that comes at regular intervals, the false labor pain will not be regular and the contractions never get closer with the progression of time

3. Will change with movement:  False labor stops, or its intensity will significantly reduce if you drink water or change your position. This will not happen when real labor sets in. No matter what you do, the frequency and intensity of real labor pain keeps on progressing

4. No cervical changes: There will be no changes in the cervix when the false labor pains and contractions set in.  However, that is not the case when it comes to real pain. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics that help to confirm what you are experiencing is false labor pain

5. Pain concentrates in the abdomen: Unlike true labor, where the pain radiates from the lower back to the front continuously, the false labor pains concentrate only in the abdomen

6. Stops with movement: The false labor pain can start or stop with the movement. Likewise, if you divert your attention to some relaxation techniques, the pain starts to diminish and disappear. This will not happen in true labor pain

7. No water leakage and bloody shows: There will be no spotting, water leakage, or bloody show when you are having false labor pain

8. No diarrhea and nausea: Real labor pain comes with nausea, vomiting, and even diarrhea. This is not the case with false labor pain. None of these accompanies false labor pain

How To Manage False Labor Pain?

How To Manage False Labor Pain

Just because prodromal labor is not true labor, it still can cause enough discomfort and anxiety that could take a toll on you.  Many mothers swear their false labor pain was as intense as the early hours of active labor pain. So false pain can be excruciating even if it disappears often.

Related Reading: 12 Important Tips For After Delivery Care

False pain can literally trouble the mother, especially if it lasts for weeks in a row. When the false labor pain prolongs, mothers might get exhausted even before the real labor sets in.

However, following some guidelines can help you to manage false labor pains. The first step is to drink well and eat well. Staying hydrated helps to manage the pain of all sorts of practice labor contractions.

Keep on moving and change the position often. It will help to stop the progression of false labor pain. Taking a shower also helps to manage the false pain well enough. 

Go for a walk, listen to music, or dig into a book you like whenever the pain sets in. Distractions help to alleviate the pain and discomfort of false labor.

And lastly, do not take too much stress. When real labor will start, you’d know it. Happy Birthing!

The content on parenting.miniklub.in is only for informational purposes and is NOT to be used as medical advice. Your DOCTOR is always the best person to guide you through your medical issues.

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