5 Things Your Contractions are Telling You

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5 Things Your Contractions are Telling You

Marcy Family Birth Center - Labor and Delivery - False Labor

As you reach the last month or so of your pregnancy, it’s normal to start experiencing labor-like symptoms, which can make it really difficult to determine when you are actually, you know, in labor! Luckily your body knows the difference, so before you pack up and head for the hospital, listen to these five things that your contractions are telling you.

Timing of Contractions

True Labor
Your contractions will happen consistently and get closer and closer together.

False Labor
Your contractions will be irregular and have no pattern of occurrence.


Duration of Contractions

True Labor
Your contractions will last anywhere between 30-70 seconds, getting gradually longer.

False Labor
Your contractions will occur for various lengths of time, without consistency.


Intensity of Contractions

True Labor
The intensity of your contractions will continually increase as time progresses.

False Labor
Your contractions will have no consistent progression of intensity.


Sensation of Contractions

True Labor
You will feel contractions radiating in your lower back and upper abdomen.

False Labor
You may feel contractions in your lower abdomen without the radiating sensation.


Effect of Contractions

True Labor
Your level of activity will have no effect on your contractions, and you may be unable to speak to others or laugh at jokes while they occur.

False Labor
Your contractions can change with your level of activity, and you will not have as much difficulty interacting with those around you.


As a bonus tip: true labor contractions will cause the cervix to thin and open, and as a result, your mucous plug will be released. This might be noticeable in a few different ways, such as light spotting, but this event also goes unnoticed by many women.

So, when should you go to the hospital?

The general rule of thumb is to follow the 511 Rule: if your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute each, and continue in that pattern for 1 hour, you are ready to head for the hospital.

That being said, keep in mind that you should call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.

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