The main difference between them is that Braxton hicks don't produce a baby. They are both real, contracting of the uterus. Usually labor contractions are more painful and begin to follow a pattern and get closer together and they make changes in your body as far as effacement and dilation. Braxton Hicks usually don't, although they can. The general rule is more than 4 per hour if you are preterm. If you get more than 4 call your doctor and lay down on your right side to see if it helps. You also have to get to know your body since everyone is different- my braxton hicks came every 5-10 min for 2 months before my babies were born, and were worse when I rested....so I broke all the rules.