Labor pain symptoms let you know your baby’s due and it’s time to head to the hospital. So, how can you tell if you’re actually in labor? We’ve got you, mama.
Did you know your body actually starts preparing for labor as much as a month before you give birth?
Your cervix will start changing, your uterus will practice contracting, and your baby might drop lower.
With so much going on, it can be tough to know when labor has really started.
Don’t worry, mama.
We’ll help you spot the essential labor pain symptoms that let you know when to grab that bag and head straight to the hospital.
So take a deep breath, and let’s get going.
You’ve got this.
In this article: 📝
- How do you know if it’s labor pains?
- What are the 5 signs that you are in labor?
- When should I go to the hospital for labor pains?
- How long did you have contractions before going to the hospital?
How do you know if it’s labor pains?
We’ve all seen those scenes in the movies — that big surprise when someone’s water breaks and they dramatically rush to the hospital.
While this certainly can happen, in real life, only about one in ten women experience their water breaking in this way.
Usually, the signs of labor are much more gradual.
And as with all things pregnancy, your labor experience might be very different from your friends and even your previous pregnancies.
Whatever way it plays out, there are three main stages of labor.
These are early labor (which can last upwards of 20 hours), active labor, which is when it’s time to get to where your baby will be born, and the final stage where you deliver the placenta.
If your contractions are mild, short, and irregular, but you haven’t experienced any other labor pain symptoms, you could have Braxton Hicks contractions.
These are essentially your body doing a trial run.
They’re more common at the end of the day or after physical exercise.
So how do you know it’s the real deal?
There are five tell-tale signs active labor is near, and your baby is about to make an appearance.
What are the 5 signs that you are in labor?
The five main labor pain symptoms are:
- Strong contractions that come more frequently — about every five to seven minutes.
- Contractions that last upwards of 30 seconds and get more intense as they progress.
- Vaginal discharge that has a brownish or reddish tinge.
- Pain in your lower back, belly, or pelvis that doesn’t go away if you shift positions.
- Your water breaking — which could be a sudden rush or a gradual trickle.
When should I go to the hospital for labor pains?
If you’re ever in doubt about any aspect of your pregnancy, get in touch with your medical care provider.
They’ll give you the best advice, including when to go to the hospital and whether you’re actually in active labor.
Keeping in regular contact with your practitioner will also mean avoiding arriving at the hospital too early (and getting turned away, never fun) or too late (and your baby isn’t waiting for a second longer).
Contractions: when to go to hospital for labor
The timings of hospital trips will be different for every mama-to-be, depending on your location, how dilated your cervix was at your last exam, your baby’s position, and your health history.
As a general rule though, if contractions are five minutes apart, lasting one minute each, for at least one hour, it’s time to go to the hospital.
This is known as the 511 rule.
You might also hear about the 411 rule.
Yep, that’s just contractions four minutes apart.
Chatting with your midwife ahead of time about timing contractions and when to head to the hospital will help ease your mind.
It’s all about taking as many worries off your plate as possible, ready for the big day.
How long did you have contractions before going to the hospital?
When to go to the hospital for labor is not going to be exactly the same for all of us.
We know from Peanut mamas’ experiences that the early stages of labor (and the contractions that go with it) can last anything from a few hours to multiple days.
While the labor timeline is different for everyone, it’s not unusual for second and third babies to come much quicker than the first time around.
So it’s not a bad idea to prepare for this.
And once contractions get stronger, longer, and closer together, it’s time to go to the hospital.
Take a deep breath mama, because you’re about to meet the new love of your life.