Am I really in labor? As you get closer to your due date, it’s important to know the difference between actual labor contractions and Braxton Hicks (practice) contractions. When you start having actual labor contractions, time them. Based on the frequency and duration of your contractions, your health care provider will tell you when to call their office or go to the hospital.

Labor Contractions:

-Contractions at regular intervals
-Contractions increase in intensity
-The interval between contractions shorten
-You feel pain in your back and/or lower abdomen
-Discomfort doesn’t stop when you walk around
-The cervix begins to dilate

Braxton Hicks Contractions: 
-Contractions don’t happen at regular intervals.
-The intensity of contractions stays about the same
-The interval between contractions doesn’t get shorter
-Discomfort is primarily in your lower abdomen
-Discomfort is often relieved by walking
-Cervix doesn’t dilate

When should I go to the hospital?
Your health care provider will guide you based on their knowledge of your individual health. When you call, they’ll want to know the frequency and duration of your contractions. The general guideline is to go to the hospital or birthing center when you have contractions that are 5 minutes apart and last for about 1 minute for 1 hour (the 5-1-1 rule). If your water has broken, your provider may tell you to go to the hospital sooner, even if contractions haven’t started.

It’s also important to listen to your body and pay attention to your feelings and intuition. If you feel strongly that you need to go to the hospital, follow your instincts.


Your Guide To Labor And Birth (Vol. 0318). (2020). Customized Communications, Inc.