Medical Definition of Pain, false labor

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Pain, false labor: The pain associated with intermittent non-productive muscular contractions of the womb (uterus) during pregnancy, most commonly in the last two months before full term. These contractions are non-productive in the sense that they do not produce any effacement (flattening) or dilation (opening up) of the cervix.

It is often said that false contractions are for "practice," for getting the woman ready for true labor, but this is pure speculation since there is no convincing evidence that these contractions aid in the delivery of the baby in any way.

An episode of false labor can surprise and concern a pregnant woman, especially when she experiences these contractions for the first time. But, by definition, these contractions are of limited duration and do not indicate the onset of active labor.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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