Every woman is different. Your best friend might have had her waters break and be holding her new baby in her arms in less than five hours. You on the other hand, might get symptoms that feel a bit like contractions for weeks before anything happens.
Understanding the signs of Labour is a useful starting point to detecting when you have a false alarm on your hands, so do read the ThinkBaby article on this by clicking above.
Likely signs that it's a false alarm
If you feel like you are having contractions but they do not become regular – timing them is really useful – and do not get more painful, then the chances are they are simply Braxton Hicks, which are your body's 'practice contractions'.
If the contractions seem to disappear if you move about or find another position to sit or lay in, then they are unlikely to be real contractions.
If the pain you feel is in your lower abdomen without back pain it is likely to just be a pre-labour ache. Labour pain tends to start in the back and sometimes go down into your legs, though it can then spread to your abdomen.
If in doubt, call your midwife
Healthy pregnancies and births often come with strange and slightly worrying aches and pains beforehand.
If you are in doubt about what you are feeling, do call your midwife. By talking to you (and from knowing your pregnancy) she can better gauge your condition. Don't get someone else to call her, she will want to hear how you sound as a guide to whether or not your pain is the real thing!
If you have experienced a brownish discharge after sex, this is not a worry but something you may wish to mention to your midwife when you have your weekly check-up. (The check-ups get more frequent the nearer you get to the birth. If you are reading this and are still a few months off - don't worry, you are not expected to see someone so frequently at the moment.)
If there has been a lot of fetal movement and this is not your usual experience (some women find their baby moves more when they have just eaten, for example) then do discuss this with your midwife. It can mean fetal distress, and you will want to have this ruled out as a precaution.
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