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How to Tell When Labor Begins

  False Labor True Labor
Timing of contractions Often irregular and 
do not consistently 
get close together
Come at regular intervals and, 
as time goes on, get closer and 
closer together
Change with movement Contractions may 
stop when you walk, 
rest, or with a change
in position
Contractions continue despite
movement,position  rest, 
or change in position
Location of contractions Often felt in 
abdomen only

Usually felt in back and wrap 
around to front-may feel like a
bad backache or menstrual cramp

Time your contractions for 2 hours. During true labor…………

  • Contractions last 40-70 seconds
  • They occur at regular intervals
  • They don't go away with rest or when you move around
  • Once your contractions occur every 5 to 10 minutes for 2 hours or greater — it is time to call your doctor

Other reasons to call your doctor…………

  • Your membranes rupture (your "water breaks"), even if you are not having contractions. You will feel a continuous gush or trickle of watery fluid from your vagina
  • You are bleeding from the vagina
  • You have constant, severe pain — do not wait for an hour to pass
  • Decrease in baby movement — your baby should continue to move up to and even during labor

Remember, your due date is only a guideline. Labor is unpredictable and often happens a little early or a little late, which is no cause for anxiety or alarm.
Plans to go to the hospital…………
Planning ahead is often beneficial and will decrease your stress when labor begins.
Think about: distance, transportation, home arrangements