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How did you know you were in labor?

Posted by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 8:53 AM
  • 13 Replies

How to Tell if You're Really in Labor

by Adriana Velez

labor painYou're due any day now and suddenly it hits you: An incredible wave of pain stretching across your abdomen that can only mean one thing. You're in labor! Or are you? How can you be sure? You could just be experiencing Braxton Hicks labor, or "false" labor. That's your body's way of practicing for labor pains -- but you're still not ready to have that baby yet. In fact, if you're having false labor, all you really need to do is relax, maybe take a walk, and make yourself comfortable.

But labor is something else. Once you start getting real labor pains, you should let your doctor or midwife know and then start timing how long and far apart your pains are. Before you have that baby, make sure you know the difference between early labor pains, Braxton Hicks contractions, and just plain ol' cramps. Here are 11 common labor-like symptoms and whether they're most likely labor pains or Braxton Hicks.

1. Symptom: Pain moves from your abdomen to your back, or from your back to your abdomen. 

Most likely: Real labor. 

2. Symptom: Sight pressure on your lower abdomen that isn't painful.

Most likely: Braxton Hicks

3. Symptom: Tightening of your abdomen that comes and goes, but not in a set pattern.

Most likely: Braxton Hicks

4. Symptom: Belly pressure that goes away when you shift positions or walk.

Most likely: Braxton Hicks 

5. Symptom: A dull ache in your lower back along with pressure in your pelvis.

Most likely: Real labor.

6. Symptom: Waves of pain that feel like diarrhea cramps.

Most likely: Real labor.

7. Symptom: Cramps that get closer together over time.

Most likely: Real labor. False labor doesn't usually intensify over time.

8. Symptom: Cramps get stronger over time.

Most likely: Real labor. 

9. Symptom: Slight pressure on your lower abdomen that isn't painful.

Most likely: Braxton Hicks

10. Symptom: Pain in your thighs.

Most likely: Real labor. You may also feel pain in your sides.

11. Symptom: Cramps get weaker over time.

Most likely: Braxton Hicks

Labor pains can feel differently for different women. When in doubt, call your health care provider. Better safe than sorry! Even if you end up describing what turns out to be Braxton Hicks contractions, at least you'll know.

Are you worried about dealing with early labor pains? How did you know you were in labor?

by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 8:53 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 9:42 AM

My water broke... I was 40w6d and was up all night with pain "down there". Lots and lots of pressure and felt like I had to poop but couldn't. I couldn't even lay down and sleep because it hurt like heck to lay down. So the entire night I was either in the bath tub because my back hurt from having back labor or sitting on the yoga ball. And then at 5:30 am my water broke and it was green because dd pooped in utero :/.

by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 9:55 AM

I never went into labor. I was induced at 42.5 weeks and went through 23 hours of pitocin labor and than had an emergency c-section.

by Nikki on Nov. 1, 2013 at 11:49 AM

My first signs of labor for both was losing my mucus plug. I did early labor at home.

by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 12:02 PM
2 moms liked this

My water broke lol after going into the hopital 2 times with only braxton hicks and being in 'false labor' i refused to believe my contractions were real... then my water broke lol no faking that!

by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 3:55 PM

when the dr hooked me up to the pitocin and broke my bag of waters.... i was induced all three times. the first and last were medically needed, the second was so that dh would be able to be there.

by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 3:59 PM
My water broke at 35 weeks. I didn't get contractions until some time after. The pain gradually intensified.He didn't come until 17 hours later. My Braxton hicks were very painful. It felt like back labor.My Braxton hicks sometimes lasted many hours but they stayed the same and didnt intensify.
by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 4:08 PM
2 and 9 are the same. :/

I never went into labor on my own. My water broke, but it only leaked tiny bits at a time, never a gush. Went on about my day like normal. After a while I realised I was leaking more than normal (at that point every time I moved or sneezed -and I had had a cold - I would leak; this time it was even when I was sitting still) and Googled how to tell the difference between urine and amniotic fluid. When I realized what it was, I opted to try and get actual labor going myself by walking around until DH got home. We went and nabbed a huge juicy burger for me (mwuahahaha) and went to the hospital. They eventually had to give me pitocin because contractions were absolutely not happening even in the slightest. My water had been broken for almost 30 hours before I finally gave birth... I ended up with a horrible fever and narrowly avoided an "emergency" s-section.

Anywho. I kind of wish now that there was more information readily available about how to tell if your water really IS broken, and what to do about it... I mean, I've seen soooo much about this, but not what happened to me.
by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 5:49 PM

I never had labor. :) 

by on Nov. 2, 2013 at 11:28 AM
1st time I was induced at 24 weeks so I didn't experience labor symptoms.
2nd time I had had really intense sex and about an hour after I laid down I was restless and I kept having slight pressures build and then disappear enough that I could time them. No pain at all not even uncomfy started 10 mins apart and then by the time we went to the hospital they were 5 minutes apart. (I wish I had waited a while before going in though.)
3rd time I went to the doctor for my last appointment I was 41.5 weeks and had been at a 1 for weeks, they set up my induction for that night. Never felt any signs of labor but by the time I was checked at the hospital I was a 3 and in labor. I had no clue, but very quickly after I was checked I started having intense contractions...
I hope this time around my water will break like in the movies lol
by Member on Nov. 2, 2013 at 11:44 AM

I didn't really know... I had never had any BH contractions but it was the day after my due date and they started around 7 am and my SO(at the time) started timing them and my mom was the one who thought I was lol. It was about 7 am and my first (and only so far) and I didn't want to be sent home because I hear that happens a lot so we went and cashed his check and paid some bills before going to the hospital. A friend of ours saw us and when I was breathing through a contraction and my SO told her I was in labor she's like  "Do you need an ambulance??!!!" I was like no, we're going over now. 

I ended up being induced and they broke my water for me long story short lol. 

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