You are nine months pregnant. Your belly is huge, you are uncomfortable, you are ready for your baby to come, and voilà! Almost as if you willed it, you feel a contraction. Is this it? Are you in labor? Or is your body just teasing you, letting you hope, just to end up going to bed and trying to get to sleep again that night while you toss and turn?
What is false labor, and how will you know is the difference between the real thing and false labor? False labor can appear in many forms. Many people will feel Braxton Hicks contractions for months, and associate this as false labor. As you get closer to the end of your pregnancy, your BH contractions might come more frequently and intensify, making it very hard to determine if they are the real thing
There are several things you can do to determine if your labor is false or real. Start by timing the contractions. If they are sporadic and do not increase in frequency or intensity, it is likely to be false labor. If you begin to see a pattern in your contractions, however, where they are coming several times an hour on a regular basis, and they are lasting 30-60 seconds each, this might be a sign that labor is on its way.
If you are feeling contractions, there are things you can try to see if they stop. Take a walk, drink a couple tall glasses of water, take a warm shower or bath, or try lying down on your left side for a while. Some of these things may stop the intensity and frequency of the contractions. If they stop, then it is false labor.
If you are not yet 37 weeks pregnant and you are experiencing what you believe is not false labor, you should call your doctor or midwife to see what they suggest you do. If it is after 37 weeks then you are generally considered full term, and unless your provider has mentioned any reason for you to come in early, you will be able to stay home and at least try to relax for as long as you are comfortable.
Most women do have false labor signs several times before the real thing hits. For first time moms it can be exciting and irritating at the same time, involving many trips to the hospital, just to be sent home because the contractions stop. Moms who have been through the joys of labor may generally not be so quick to head to the hospital, but it won’t make the anticipation any less. The thing to remember is that eventually the false labor will turn out to be real labor and your baby will be arrive.
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