The only way to know for sure that contractions are true labor is to have cervical change, but many times you can have contractions for awhile before that happens. So how can you tell from your contractions if it might be labor? These contractions tend to be more intense and can be felt both in the front and in the back. They start at the front and move to the back or vice versa. As time goes on they will get closer together and feel stronger. Both walking and relaxing will not effect the contractions. Feeling an increase in pressure in the vaginal and/or rectal area is also prevalent as labor progresses. You may have some bleeding, called bloody show, that is indicative of cervical change. If your contractions cause your water to break, that is a very good sign it is real labor.
Every woman is different and will have any combination of these things. Some labors are less intense than others. Some women's water never break. These are just guidelines. If you think you are in labor and are wanting to be checked out, call your provider and they will tell you if they think you need to go to the hospital or not. If things get intense quickly, feel free to go ahead and make your way there, calling your provider to let them know.
How do you know when you're in labor?