How do I know if I’m in labor?

True Labor Contractions

  • Contractions occur at regular intervals and are increasing in frequency, intensity, and length (every 3 to 5 minutes lasting 45 – 60 seconds)
  • Might feel like menstrual cramps and involve backache or pressure low in back or pelvis, or upper thighs
  • Discomfort does not stop with walking
  • Sometimes your water breaks
  • Cervix dilates

False Labor Contractions

  • Contractions occur at irregular intervals, and intensity is relatively unchanged
  • Interval between contractions not shorter
  • Discomfort primarily in lower abdomen
  • Discomfort frequently relieved with walking
  • Cervix does not dilate

What should I do if I notice stringy, mucous after I wipe?

Some refer to this as your mucous plug (bloody show). It is not very significant and there is no need to be concerned and call the doctor or go to the hospital.

How long before I go into labor after losing my mucous plug?

There is not a set time for labor starts after losing your mucous plug. It could be days to weeks before going into labor after the mucous plug passes.

What should I do if my water breaks or starts leaking?

Go to the hospital right away. You can contact your healthcare provider or the nurse will call once you arrive at the hospital.

How should I best prepare for labor?

Obtain as much information as possible with prenatal classes, discussions with healthcare provider, etc. Be familiar with different stages of labor.

  • In early labor, stay patient. This phase can last several hours. Try to get rest and promote relaxation by creating a quiet, calm environment. Between rest times, do things to pass time such as walking, shopping, visiting, reading, etc.
  • In active labor, time your contractions. Keep note of the time from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next. Concentrate on breathing and relaxation techniques. You may eat and drink. Light meals and light fluids are important for energy later in labor. When your contractions are regular and approximately 5 minutes or less, go to the hospital.

When should I go to the hospital?

  • If membranes rupture
  • If you are having regular contractions 5 minute intervals or less (requiring total concentration) and you can’t walk or talk through them any longer
  • If you have had a baby before and contractions are “feeling like labor”, do not wait at home until strong active labor pattern is established. You may dilate faster than your last labor
  • If you feel a decrease in fetal movement
  • If you are having bright red vaginal bleeding
  • If you start contracting, and you are scheduled for a C/S delivery
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