A sign denotes which direction to go to reach the emergency room of a hospital.

False Labor

False Labor or Labor Pains?

Everybody has heard about those moments when a woman believes that she is going into labor only to find out that it was in fact a false labor. The name false labor is also commonly referred to as pre-labor or prodromal labor, yet the latter usually does not progress all the way to birth. Not every woman feels this level of labor, even though it always does take place. In addition, not every woman will feel the entire range of symptoms.

What is Pre-labor?

Basically, the term pre-labor refers to the entire package of symptoms and physical changes that will occur at the time of pregnancy, i.e., the time period involved before labor. Some of the symptoms include an increase in the volume of blood, which in certain circumstances may case edema, or a presence of unsightly colostrum within each breast, and lastly the movement of the mucous plug, which bonds and closes the cervix at the time of pregnancy. The name 'false labor' also is referred to as the group of Braxton Hicks contractions that can easily be misjudged as actual labor.

It may be wise to ignore popular movies that suggest labor begins with a strong, fast contraction that makes the mother fall over writhing in pain. What actually takes place is a preparatory process several weeks before the baby is actually born. The major cause of this is due to hormones, and they need to be at the proper level to ensure effective labor. As a baby becomes ready for birth, the placenta releases necessary hormones in order to prepare the lungs for effective breathing. In the same process, the baby's body produces oxytocin, which allows the uterus to properly contract. As the labor becomes closer to taking place, more and more hormonal changes take place up until that point.

What Are the Best Ways of Identifying True Labor?

It becomes useful to discern the variety of behaviors that occur between standard periods of false labor and those that belong to real labor behavior. As real labor draws near, the contractions get closer together, become more intense, and last a longer duration. The best way to determine if an actual labor process is going to ensue, simply time five contractions, then wait several hours and do the process over again. If the contractions are relatively close between the two comparisons, then an actual labor is not likely to occur right away. Another quick method for identifying labor contractions that may be false is to alter the activity going on and see if the contractions mirror the change of behavior. If the contractions remain at the same level after the changes in activity, then this is not real labor. Furthermore, having a small meal may diminish false labor contractions.

Rushing to the hospital will not help the individual determine any faster if real labor is taking place, yet the hospital can tell that the cervix is dilated but not when it occurred. In addition, the hospital will send the mother away if the cervix is not dilated enough. In early labor, some women experience bowel movements that are softer than usual, but some of the following signs can almost assure that the woman is about to go into labor:

  • Contractions have become more intense and are taking place more often
  • Contractions last at least one minute
  • Contractions are difficult to ignore
  • Appetite has been diminished or lost altogether
  • She has abandoned her modest behavior
  • She has become less garrulous than before
Last Updated: April 19, 2016