Am I In Labor?


What is Labor?

Labor is the process by which the fetus and the placenta leave the uterus to the outside world

The beginning of labor

One of the signs that labor may be about to start is having a bloodstained mucus discharge from your vagina. This discharge is called a “bloody show.” However, it can be hours or even days before active labor starts so you don’t need to call your doctor yet!

And it starts…


Contractions! Contractions are experienced slight differently by different women. Most women describe contractions as feeling like severe abdominal pain, usually involving the entire abdomen/uterus. Some women experience pain just in the lower abdomen or in the lower back.

However, it is not the most reliable indication of labor…

Braxton Hick (false labor) vs. Labor (true labor) (2 differences)

  1. Contraction timing: Braxton Hicks contractions are not in regular pattern and will go away, while true labor contractions will become more regular and more frequent.
  2. Gaining strength: Braxton hicks are usually mild in intensity, whereas true labor contractions grow in intensity and become very painful

How do I time the contractions?

Time your contractions by counting the number of minutes from the start of one contraction to the start of the next contraction. 

What should I do when labor contractions start?

It’s a good idea to keep yourself busy.

  • Distract yourself with a relaxing activity such as watching TV, reading a book or going for a walk.
  • Contact someone to keep you company.
  • If you go into labor at night, try to relax and get some sleep while your contractions are still irregular.
  • When your contractions are becoming more uncomfortable, you may find a warm bath or shower very soothing. Make sure someone is with you, in case you feel faint or need help getting out of the bath or shower. However, if you think your water broke then please avoid the bath and call your doctor instead.
  • A warm water bottle or heating pad placed on your back or lower abdomen may give some relief.
  • You may find that a back massage will help.
  • Leaning forward over a beanbag or sitting back-to-front in a chair with some support pillows may take some of the pressure off your back and abdomen.
  • Try different positions such as lying on your side, or walking.

**Don’t Panic. You can do this. Your body was made for this. You are strong!**

When should I call my provider?

When should I call my provider?

  • When you feel very strong contractions every 3-5 minutes for at least for one hour if this is your first baby, or every 5-7 minutes if this is not your first baby.
  • Or, your water has broken. Usually you’ll feel a large gush of fluid from the vagina, or continuous flow of fluid from the vagina. DO NOT wait for your contractions to begin.
  • You experience heavy, bright red vaginal bleeding. Please note some bleeding after a recent pelvic exam by your doctor is normal.
  • You noticed a marked decrease in fetal movement