Are You in Labor?enparents's how to tell the difference between true labor and false labor -- and when to get medical care. labor, true labor, false labor, braxton hicks contractions, delivery, childbirth, contractions, pain, having a baby, pregnant, pregnancy, preemie, premature, preterm labor11/09/201610/30/201810/30/2018Armando Fuentes, MD10/22/2018e223057f-f50f-487d-a2be-25454286394e<p>It can be hard to tell when you are truly in labor. <strong>Contractions</strong> (belly tightening) are the main sign of labor. They last from 30 to 60 seconds and might feel like period cramps at first.</p> <p>False labor pains (called "Braxton Hicks" contractions) can happen anytime in pregnancy, but are more common toward the end.&nbsp;</p> <p>Here's how to tell if you're in true labor or false labor. If you're not sure, call your health care professional right away.</p> <h3>True Signs of Labor</h3> <h4>Contractions that:</h4> <ul> <li>happen 4 times per hour or more, and get closer together (for example, they come every 15 minutes, and then every 10 or 5 minutes, etc.)</li> <li>get stronger (more painful) as time goes on and do not get better with rest</li> </ul> <h4><strong>Pelvic pressure:</strong></h4> <ul> <li>It feels like the baby is pushing down in your vagina.</li> </ul> <h4><strong>A backache:</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Some lower back pain is common during pregnancy, but in labor it will be much stronger.</li> </ul> <h4><strong>Your water breaks:</strong></h4> <ul> <li>This can feel like a gush of fluid in your underpants, or a steady trickle.</li> </ul> <p>You do not need to have all symptoms to be in true labor.</p> <h3>False Signs of Labor</h3> <h4><strong>Contractions that:</strong></h4> <ul> <li>come less than 4 times an hour</li> <li>are not regular</li> <li>do not get stronger or more painful</li> <li>come and go depending on your position (if lying down, walking, sitting, etc.)</li> </ul> <h3>Call Your Health Care Professional If:</h3> <ul> <li>You think that you are in labor.</li> </ul> <h3>Go to the ER If:</h3> <ul> <li>You have signs of labor and are less than 37 weeks pregnant.</li> <li>You don't feel your baby moving.</li> <li>Your contractions are less than 5 minutes apart.</li> <li>You are bleeding.</li> <li>You have vision changes, a headache, difficulty breathing, or sudden or severe swelling.</li> </ul>
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