Difference Between Braxton Hicks Contractions and Labor

Last updated on May 19, 2013

by Maureen Stephens, BS, RN

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Difference Between Braxton Hicks Contractions and Labor

This is why you should learn the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and labor. Here are some of the most common differences between the two.

Braxton Hicks contractions are false contractions. They occur a few weeks before labor to let you know that you can enter labor at any times. Since these are contractions too, you might get confused and think that you are experiencing real contractions. You might rush to the doctor in excitement that you are going to have a baby only to find out that you still have a few weeks to go. You might feel slightly disappointed or relieved because such contractions can worry you about some problems in your pregnancy. This is why you should learn the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and labor. Here are some of the most common differences between the two. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here

Braxton Hicks are irregular

When you have real contractions, the frequency of these contractions will increase rapidly. However, in the case of Braxton Hicks contractions, the frequency will not increase at all. There will be no pattern or sequence and they will be infrequent. In the final weeks, you may see that they have increased but they won’t be close together. This will be a sign that you are not in labor.

Contractions are consistent

When you are in labor, you will be able to make out a pattern. The intervals will be regular and the frequency of the contractions will also increase. If you see that you are having contractions every ten minutes or five minutes, you are in labor!

Braxton hicks less severe

Braxton Hicks contractions will not become severe. Real contractions will. Your abdomen will tense and harden but you won’t feel any increase in severity. They will be the same each time. Also, they will not be longer.

Real contractions increase

In labor, the severity and intensity of your contractions will keep increasing with each contraction. They will become more painful to endure and stronger each time. The duration of the real contractions will increase progressively, too. Your contractions will start with 30 seconds duration and increase to even a minute or 90 seconds in duration.

Braxton hicks stop when you move

If you are having Braxton Hicks contractions, these will stop when you move. Walk around or change the position in which you are standing or sitting and the contractions will ease out.

Real contractions no relief

During real labor and real contractions, though, no matter what you do you will find no relief. This is the biggest difference.

Braxton hicks no radiating pain

When you have Braxton Hicks contractions, there will be no radiating pain for you to endure. You will just feel your stomach getting hardened. Sometimes, you will feel some pain but that’s all.

Real contractions lots of pain

When you have real contractions, you will feel a lot of pain and the pain will simply keep increasing. The pain will be such that you will stop doing whatever it is you are doing and start taking deep breaths! Think about your menstrual cramps. Think how much it’d be pain if it were three-fold or four-fold? That is real labor.


Now that you know how to differentiate between the two, you will be better prepared and you will know when to go to the doctor to get admitted. If you feel that the pain during Braxton Hicks contractions is too much and not normal, you should go to the doctor anyway, just to be sure that everything is okay.

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Difference Between Braxton Hicks Contractions and Labor, 5.0 out of 5 based on 9 ratings

Ms. Stephens has spent over twenty years in the healthcare world, specializing in obstretical and medical/surgical nursing. She joined ConceiveEasy as she has a strong interest in educating and empowering women and promoting fertility awareness.

  • Sarah G.

    I am having my Braxton Hicks right now, I think!!! Thanks, ConceiveEasy!

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