3 Ways to Distinguish Between True and False Labour Pain

If you are new to motherhood, then you might have the zillionth queries about your pregnancy. And while in the process, you should know how to distinguish between false labour pain and true labour signs.


In actual labour, you will encounter painful and frequent uterine contractions at regular intervals. The contractions are strong enough to cease your movements, and they last for a more extended period. The intensity and duration of the contractions usually progress as time passes. There is an apparent increase in discomfort in actual labour.

But, false labour pain is dull. They don’t radiate to the thighs, and they are confined to the groin and lower abdomen. They are also termed Braxton Hicks contractions. Being irregular and mild, they get dissociated once you start making some movements or start walking.

Water break

Water will not break in case of false labour. Repeated uterine contractions make the ‘bag of water’ convex and tense. Subsequent contractions slowly lead to water break. It is one of the most common ways to distinguish between false labour pain and true labour signs.

Cervical changes

Cervical changes and regular uterine contractions are the signs of the onset of labour. In falsework, there is markedly no change in the cervix. But, in actual labour, the cervix dilates, softens, and shortens. Cervical mucus plug with a small amount of blood oozes out.


There are also other ways to distinguish between false and true labour signs. False pain can be easily relieved by analgesics, but actual pain is hard to control and can’t be manipulated by sedatives. 

False labour pain is found more in primigravidae than in parous mothers. It usually appears 1-2 weeks in primigravidae and a few days in multiparae before the onset of true labour pain.

*Please note that we are no medical experts. This is only hands-on information to refer to. Please consult your gynaecologist at every stage of pregnancy.*