How do I tell the difference between braxton hicks contractions and actual contractions?

Labor. Labor is defined as contractions that cause cervical change. By definition contractions that do not cause change are braxton hicks.

Related Questions

Difference between braxton hicks contractions, trimesteral uterine contractions and regular labor contractions??

Cervical change. Braxton-Hicks contractions are real contractions, but are not putting you into labor, as evidenced by changing your cervix. Keep well hydrated, and time them. If they are coming ever 5 minutes, you need to be evaluated by your obstetrician. Read more...

When in actual labour do you still experience braxton hicks contractions?

Nope! You trade up for the real things! some labor contractions aren't even as painful as some braxton-hicks, but they eventually make it there. Read more...
You Don't. Braxton-hicks, false labor, uterine cramps, etc are all the same ; called different things depending what stage you're in. By definition, if your cervix is changing ; you are having ucs, they are labor contractions. Prior to labor, they are called bhc or false labor, but remember, it's still the same uterine muscle contracting. Don't get hung up on the definitions, enjoy your pregnancy. Read more...