Besides the usual "you'll just know" (which you will) Braxton-Hicks contractions do not generally progress the way real labor will. Meaning, they don't get closer together, they don't increase in intensity, and they should stop if you change position, get up and walk, sit down, etc. With my second and third pregnancies I had Braxton-Hicks contractions for a few weeks before I went into labor. But, many women can have them all through the pregnancy. With my second, I could time them, they would get closer together, but they'd stop immediately after I got up to walk around. They tightened my belly and made it extremely hard to breathe. Real contractions weren't like that. With my third, I had contractions that would last all day, even through walking, but would stop at night.but really, you'll know when they're real. It's hard to describe what real contractions feel like, but it's definitely more than just abdominal tightening. It's a little painful, and something in you will just realize that it's labor. It just sort of clicks in your brain and you go, "Oh, ok. That's what a real contraction is." And then you think, "Oh my gosh, I'm about to have a baby!"