How Do I Know if I’m in Labor?

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Oh boy (or girl)!

If you are pregnant, you may find yourself becoming more and more concerned about delivering your baby at some fast food restaurant. Perhaps you are feeling too inexperienced, worried you won’t recognize the signs once you are truly in labor. Rest assured, the vast majority of women make it to the hospital in plenty of time.  When labor is upon you … you will know it.

Only 1% of pregnancies will ever end in a sudden, intense urge to push with no previous labor symptoms!

There are various symptoms you will experience once you’re in labor. Certainly, many women are misled by these symptoms, often nothing more than Braxton Hicks contractions, during the later months of pregnancy. Still, contractions are definitely a sign of labor.

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The consistency and duration of your contractions are what matter most. Track them. If they continue to come faster and harder – chances are you’re in labor.

If you are gauging “real labor” by contractions alone, it is important to ascertain whether or not the intensity of your pain and contractions change when you move your body into a new position. Real labor will not go away because you lie down or take a walk. If you suspect that you’re in labor, start timing your contractions with a clock. Are they getting closer together? One thing to keep in mind is that the average time that first-time mother will labor for is about nine hours. For mothers who have had previous children, about six hours. So don’t worry, you definitely have time!

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A lot of women and doctors say that losing the mucous plug, and having cervical dilation are indications that labor is about to begin. In a textbook pregnancy, yes; these are indicators. However, most women aren’t textbook. You could lose your mucous plug and not go into labor until the following week; or lose it, and go into labor within hours. The point is this: if you notice any changes in your cervical mucus and discharge, or find that it’s bloody, report this to your midwife or doctor immediately. As for dilation, your doctor will have to give you that information. Many women stay dilated at three to four centimeters for a few weeks, before actually going into labor. Others won’t dilate at all before “the day” arrives.

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How Do I Know if I’m in Labor?

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144 comments

  1. Profile photo of Sheryl Sheryl says:

    im 37 weeks pregnant, nd thick discharge is coming out does that mean im in labor or not?

  2. Profile photo of Shiloh JohnsonEditor Shiloh Johnson says:

    Generally, if it’s your water breaking it will continue to leak out, so if it stopped, it probably wasn’t that. I would still probably call your doctor to see if they’d like you to come in and get checked out. Oh, and when I called because I thought my water broke, they told me to lay on my left side with fresh underwear on for 20 minutes. If I stayed dry, then it wasn’t my water because if it’s your water, it will continue to come out even when you’re laying down. Of course, it was…I didn’t have to wait long to figure that one out – lol. Good luck mama!!

  3. Profile photo of cvalle81 cvalle81 says:

    This is my third child and I’m overdue.. I just can’t wait!!

  4. Profile photo of Kiki Kiki says:

    A couple of days ago after intercourse I had a little bit bigger amount of discharge than normal. I cleaned myself up then went to take a nap and when I woke up and got dressed I felt a little run down my leg like a tinkle or whatever not a full on pee, this couldn’t have been my watering breaking could it? I’m only 34 weeks.

  5. Profile photo of Domi Domi says:

    I’m 36 weeks tomorrow with my second and I’m kind of scared. Only because with my first I was induced and I never had braxton hicks, so I never really felt contractions and such (I got the epidural as soon as I could.) The last week though I have expierenced A LOT of braxton hicks contractions. I guess I am just scared I won’t know when it is real labor or not.

  6. this makes me a little nervous. i’m always trying to discern whether i’m just feeling pain or the braxton contractions

  7. Profile photo of heidi heidi says:

    this is my first child and im 30 weeks how will i know what the contractions feel like and when will they happen?

  8. Profile photo of acoats621 acoats621 says:

    As a first time mom, it’s hard to know what to expect, but thanks to wonderful websites such as Everyday Family, books, and advice from other moms, I feel ready when I do go into labor! 🙂

  9. Profile photo of Victoria Victoria says:

    I’m 36 weeks tomorrow and I am not that scared but I dont know if I want him out yet were not prepaired and my baby boy is a chill babywho just keeps me up at nite which i am used to no sleep.

  10. Profile photo of StephFerrero StephFerrero says:

    I’m almost 35 weeks and I haven’t either…

  11. Profile photo of Olga Olga says:

    had some contractions that felt like terrible backache a few weeks ago! on my 30th week. twice in an even interval! got scared! now (today) is my 34th week! nothing since then!

  12. Profile photo of mandynessa mandynessa says:

    i’m 36 weeks… and nervous about labor. I have no idea how things will go down..!

  13. Profile photo of Nikki Nikki says:

    I feel the same way hunny 🙂 hehe. I’ve been yelling at my fiance if he even come’s into our apt with out taking off his shoe’s lmao!!

  14. Profile photo of Nikki Nikki says:

    Im 32 weeks and 2 days today 🙂 Ive been to the hospital more than 2 times already just because I had a "bad feeling". Do not be afraid that you would look stupid when you wont 🙂 I felt like I was stupid the first time I went because I started to get Brax Hicks real bad, I waited a hour counting how long they came-n-go after a hour past I finally went to the hospital and on the way to the hospital while I was in the ambulance all a sudden the contractions stopped. Everything felt fine. Lol!!! So don’t feel like your dumb if you go, your doing this for your baby remember 🙂 This is my first.

  15. Profile photo of cgelbish cgelbish says:

    i’m 28 weeks this friday with my first. completely terrified about the pain. any advice to stay calm?

  16. what they don’t tell you in this is that labor could feel like back pain on steroids.

  17. Profile photo of cvalle81 cvalle81 says:

    Good Luck Ladies!!! You’ll all do great!! This is my third child. 🙂

  18. Profile photo of Nugget_Butt Nugget_Butt says:

    I’ve had plenty of Brax Hicks and they are more annoying then anything really. I’m trying not to think about the labor part because this is my first and I’m so afraid of how much it will hurt. I’d like to go natural for as long as I can but hey–if it gets too much I’m glad to know that there is something on the side I can take for it.

  19. Profile photo of NikkiC12 NikkiC12 says:

    I started nesting waaay before that…couldn’t help myself…I think I have thrown out or donated everything I possibly could to make more room in closets and stuff…house is painted….and never been cleaner. Just waiting to get the new carpeting in the babys room and then we will get the nursery ready!!! I am too nervous that I wouldn’t have everything ready if for some reason I went early…so now i’m just about 29 weeks and I can take it alittle easier for now!! 🙂

  20. Profile photo of Ashley Ashley says:

    ugh this is my frist and im scared bout labor

  21. Profile photo of brandy brandy says:

    great for firstime moms

  22. Profile photo of WolfCubMama WolfCubMama says:

    Everyone I talk to seems to have had a different experience! At 35 weeks I think I lost my mucus plug and had pretty intense Brax. Hicks. But they would only come when standing and walking. then go away when sitting and laying. I am 36 weeks tomorrow and no real labor yet thank goodness, I want to make it to my baby shower this weekend!

  23. Profile photo of EthansMama EthansMama says:

    Im 33 weeks and havent even felt any Braxton Hicks contractions yet…

  24. Profile photo of icgod02 icgod02 says:

    I did not really nest with my last child and first child was c-section because breech. So we shall see with this last one. lol

  25. Profile photo of Sasoo Sasoo says:

    Is it bad that I’m nesting at 26 weeks? My cleaning frenzy has begun. Should there be a round two? Oh my. I hope the baby isn’t coming too early :-/

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