I HATED hearing that from others.. trust me, you'll know! Yeah right!!! I was in a chat room while I was in labor and i didn't know. I thought I was just having some back pain from sleeping wrong. Fortunately, the women in the room told me I was in labor and i needed to call the hospital. Sure enough I was dilating and in labor!
This is my recommendation to you... braxton hicks are NOT regular contractions. They come and go and are relieved when you change positions. It sounds much like you are having this type of contraction.
The real deal will NOT go away no matter what you do and will be very rhythmic in timing. Keep a clock around you at all times because you will need to keep count of them. They will also decrease in time in between the contractions.
Don't be scared! I was terrified, but it was actually very easy. Use DEEP BREATHING relaxation exercises through them. Imagine your belly as a balloon and you're trying to fill it up and empty it each time. I used this and made it to a little over 6cms on my own. Then I chose to have the epidural because i was afraid if I went too far then I wouldn't be able to do it on my own. I might have though... it was actually very easy! :)