Difference between False Labour Pains and True Labour Pains

False labour pain occurs before the onset of true labour pain with some discomfort in the abdomen and true pain involves regular painful uterine contractions.

Labour is a series of events that take place in the genital organs in an effort to expel the viable product of conception (foetus) out of the womb through the vagina into the outer world.

Labour usually starts 2 weeks before or after the expected date of delivery (EDD). There is a probability that you can deliver on your expected date of delivery too.

Some women start to experience false labour pains around the expected date of delivery mistaken as true labour pains and have to visit the doctor frequently. I will let you know how false labour pain differs from true labour pain.

False Labour Pains

  • False pain is found more in primigravida (pregnant for the first time) than in parous women (have delivered previously)
  • It usually appears before the beginning of true labour pain, by one or two weeks in primigravidae and a few days in multiparae
  • You may feel pain and discomfort in the abdomen and these are mistaken for labour pain
  • Pain is usually dull and confined to the lower abdomen and groin
  • Pain may be continuous and unrelated with the hardening of the uterus and no effect on dilatation (open) of the cervix
  • The causes of such pains are stretching of the cervix and lower uterine segment; thinning of the cervix before the onset of the true labour pains
  • It is a very annoying and distressing symptom for women.

True Labour Pains

Some of the symptoms of true labour pain are-

Painful uterine contractions ( labour pains) at regular intervals

Throughout the pregnancy, painless Braxton Hicks contractions occur with hardening of the uterus but as pregnancy advances, it becomes more and more evident. These contractions change their character and become more painful and powerful during labour. The pain is more felt in front of the abdomen and back and radiating towards the thighs.

If it is your true labour pain, you may feel regular uterine contractions that last for 30 seconds and come every 5-10 minutes.


The show refers to the expulsion of cervical mucus plug mixed with blood. With the onset of labour, due to stretching of the lower uterine segment, separation of the membranes occur leads to profuse cervical secretion along with slight oozing of blood from the rupture of blood vessels of the cervix.

During pregnancy, the presence of a cervical mucus plug prevents any bacteria from getting into the uterus and protects the baby. During the last couple of weeks of pregnancy or until labour itself, the plug starts to come away so the baby can pass through the cervix.

Progressive effacement and dilation of cervix

Due to regular uterine contraction, the cervix starts to dilate with stretching of the lower uterine segment.

During pregnancy, the cervix remains firm so that the developing foetus can remain in the uterus until the right time of delivery.

In preparation for labour and delivery, the cervix starts to soften (ripe) for cervical dilation, labour and delivery of the foetus.

Formation of the bag of waters

The membranes are detached easily due to the stretching of the lower uterine segment. With the opening of the cervix, the membranes lying below the fetal head containing amniotic fluid tends to bulge (bag of waters) into the cervical canal.

After contraction pass off, the bulging may disappear completely. This is almost a certain sign of the onset of labour.

In some cases, water breaks with the leaking of amniotic fluid before the onset of true labour pain and need immediate consultation with the doctor.


In the above post, we have discussed the difference between false labour pain and true labour pain. False labour pain appears before the onset of true labour pain with some discomfort in the abdomen without regular uterine contractions. True labour pain involves painful uterine contractions at regular intervals with progressive dilation and effacement of the cervix.

Thank you all!!! Hope you find this useful.

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