Braxton Hicks Contractions vs. Real Contractions
Is it time? Here's how to distinguish real contractions from false labor pains
How regular are the contractions?
True Labor Typically occur at regular intervals that decrease over time (every ten minutes, every eight minutes, every five minutes).
False Labor Sporadic, and with no predictable pattern.
Where do you feel them?
True Labor Start in the back and come around to the front (sometimes move from top to bottom).
False Labor Generally centered in the abdomen or the groin.
Do the contractions change when you switch position?
True Labor Keep a steady pace, but may intensify when you move around.
False Labor May stop or slow down when you shift your position or walk around.
How long does each one last?
True Labor About 30 to 70 seconds at the onset; progressively increase.
False Labor Contractions usually vary in length and intensity.
Adapted from The Parenting Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth, by Paula Spencer with the editors of Parenting (Ballantine).