1. Health

Video:Differences Between True Labor and False Labor

with Dr. Stuart James Fischbein

Deciphering between true labor and false labor pains is sometimes difficult. Watch this About.com video to see some helpful information about telling the difference between them.See Transcript

  • All Videos
  • All Health Videos
  • Pregnancy / Birth Videos

Transcript:Differences Between True Labor and False Labor

Hello I'm Dr. Stuart James Fischbein. I'm a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. My website is www.birthinginstincts.com and I'm here today on behalf of About.com to discuss with you the differences between true labor and false labor.

Telling if It's True Labor or False Labor

This is an important differential to make for a pregnant woman because obviously one is significant and the other one is insignificant but can cause you anxiety and having to get in your car and drive to the hospital and have all sorts of interventions done upon you only to find out that it was a false alarm. Sometimes you can't tell, but I'm going to do my best today to give you some information on how to differentiate between the two.

What Is Labor?

First of all let's discuss what labor is. Labor technically speaking is defined as progressive effacement and dilation of the cervix, which means your cervix has to be changing. It means the contractions have to be doing something. If the contractions are contracting but your cervix isn't changing then by definition you're not in labor.

Telling if Your Cervix Is Changing

The question is how do I know at home whether my cervix is changing or not. Sometimes that's a little difficult to tell, however the cervix when it begins to soften or thin which is called effacement, or begins to dilate, often you will see a change in the quantity and the quality of your cervical mucus. It may change from a sort of a mucusy discharge to a more watery discharge. It may change in color from more yellowish white to brownish or pinkish because there's now blood in it as the capillaries in the cervix begin to get stretched.

Signs You May Be in Labor

If you see those sorts of things and you're not yet at term, clearly that's a problem, that's something you would call your practitioner immediately for. If you're at term and you start to see those changes that's a very good sign because that probably means you're going into labor. So if you're having contractions that are sort of rhythmic and you can time them, 4 minutes apart, 6 minutes apart, that's more likely to be true labor. And if it is before 37 weeks it's important that you go in and get seen right away because if you are in labor and you’re premature we want to try to get that stopped and the earlier you get seen the better it is.

Signs You Are in False Labor

False labor can sometimes be differentiated from true labor because false labor can sometimes be made to go away. The way you can make things go way is to empty your bladder, make sure you're well hydrated so drink some juice or some water, and then get off your feet and lie down for about an hour. So true labor is something that will not go away, it's a little more uncomfortable, you might start to see cervical changes that we discussed. False labor you will not see that, and generally will go away with rest and fluids.

Again I'm Dr. Stuart Fischbein. Thank you so much for watching. If you'd like to learn more visit us online at About.com.

About videos are made available on an "as is" basis, subject to the User Agreement.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.