True labor vs. false labor

Sometimes you may think you’re starting labor, but it’s just a false alarm. You might feel contractions, but your cervix is not dilating or effacing.

False labour (also known as prodromal labor) can be pretty convincing and it’s fairly common. A 2017 medical study found that more than 40 percent of pregnant women had false labor when they thought they were in labor.

False labor typically happens pretty close to your due date, at 37 weeks of later. This makes it even more confusing. You may have contractions for up to

 several hours that happen at regular intervals. False laborcontractions are also called Braxton-Hicks contractions.

The difference between false labor and true labor is that false labor contractions won’t make your cervix open up. You can’t measure down there, but you might be able to tell if you are in false or true labor by checking your symptoms:


False Labor

True Labor


Feel better after walking

Don’t feel better after walking

Contraction strength

Stay the same

Get stronger over time

Contractions interval

Stay the same

Get closer together over time

Contraction location

Generally only at the front

Begin at the back and move to the front

Vaginal discharge

No blood

May have some blood

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