The ABC's of Pregnancy: F is for False Labor

False labor is such a frustrating term! How can labor be false? Your contractions are real, the twinges and pains are real! So what is happening when our body experiences this “false” labor?

Basically the contractions, twinges and “labor stuff” that you are feeling, aren’t doing much in terms of opening up your cervix. There can be some change but the contractions are not usually strong enough or close enough together to really get the job done.

Your uterus is a huge muscle that has to do a lot of work to get a human being out of it. Sometimes that means it likes to bulk up and practice contractions. These contractions are sometimes called Braxton Hicks contractions. They can feel like a tight hug or tightening wave in your belly. These Braxton Hicks are normal and not super distracting for pregnant women.

Sometimes the contractions can become more intense but they never create a pattern so they are considered false labor.

Now lets define true labor. The question I get asked most often is “when will I know I’m in labor?” There is only one true answer to this question. You will know you are in true labor when your contractions get longer, stronger and closer together.

Let me say that again.


You contractions have to do these things in order to get a baby out of you, there’s no question about that! Some women do experience shorter or precipitous labors but even during those labors your contractions will get longer stronger and closer together, just during a shorter amount of time.

Usually women have plenty of time to pay attention to the pattern of contractions they are experiencing before they are ready to push.

False labor can be frustrating for a pregnant women who is ready to meet her baby. The best thing you can do is rest between contractions or after a bought of intense contractions and try to take it easy. Trust your body to do what it needs to do to get that baby out and try to keep distracted with other things. Your baby will be here before you know it!