How Do I Know if I’m in Labor?


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.

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!

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.


What do you think?

How Do I Know if I’m in Labor?

Tell us what you think!


  1. Im having twins and lately i been feeling pain in my pelvic is that normal or what should i do

    • Megan Klay says:

      Hi there! Congrats on your twin pregnancy! Definitely give your doctor a call if you haven’t already, and they’ll let you know if they’d like to see you or not. Best wishes!

  2. Tina Marie says:


  3. Claudia says:

    I am so worried about my this baby with my first i was a stay at home mom so I had time to listen to my body and had a lot of support so i had no worries. This time me and my husband are more on our own and with a child in school and full schedules I’m terrified that i will end up not making it to the hospital.

  4. Karina says:

    I’m worried as crap. Been feeling really sick and blah lately. Back always aching now, belly hurts, sharp pains and achy pains. I think I lost my mucus plug or some at least. And the pelvic pain is just getting worse and worse. Sharp pains down my crotch. Tmi but I’m only 31 weeks, almost 32. I’m freaking out but I’m not trying to run to the hospital for everything

  5. ann says:

    I have 2 children (boys) and its been 15yrs., now i’m having a girl and i hope i will be able to tell when i am ready. With my two boys, i couldn’t tell. My first was born at home, with my second, my doctor had to tell me to go to the hospital, i delivered that very night!

  6. Corea W. says:

    Great article to read to give you an idea of the difference between false & real labor contractions!

  7. Stephanie says:

    Every time is different…

  8. Chelsea says:

    I seriously wish I could be worried about this right now! But… I’m not even pregnant! 🙁
    Any advise??

    • Sierra Lyn says:

      If your stressing about conceiving its less likely to happen. My fiance and i tried for over a year to get pregnant. Never use protection, & had sex everyday almost, if not mulitple times a day. But when we stopped trying & i gave up hope, boom it happened. Now i am 9 months pregnant with a little girl. They say it don’t always work but it worked for me. Just an idea to try & help you conceive. Goodluck to you!!(:

  9. maria says:

    I am super nervous I have a 4 year old girl already but the day she was born I was dilated 3 centimeters and I was sent to the hospital after my office visit I did not experience any contractions until after the nurse in the hospital broke my water. I feel like a FTM since It’s been a couple years and I didn’t really have to rush anywhere the first time!

  10. Melissa says:

    My biggest fear is that no one would be around when my water brakes or I start to have contractions. I don’t like being alone.

  11. sweety says:

    Ya actually I ddnt knew all the above things but fm 2-3days I am facing flow,nw I am at 33wks and 4 days,I had visited my gyn n she told to rest and if it continues excessly then she will hospitalised me.and right now she says its heavy infection.i hope this not really the symptom for pre delivery.

  12. corind says:

    31 weeks and 2 days pregnant. kinda nervous been feeling some pelvic pressure since yesterday and what I am pretty sure are just Braxton hicks contractions, since they haven’t been getting worse but are fairly regular at a few hours apart, all week. freaking out a little bit

  13. Ana says:

    So nervous 😮

  14. Denise says:

    I am already getting nervous, I’ve heard so many different explanations of what labor feels like. My doctor told me its like menstrual cramps, but I’ve only got back cramps during my periods, and I have already felt some of those during the pregnancy.

  15. daisy says:

    I’m 39 weeks tomorrow. Found out Monday I’m dilated to a one. This is my first baby. I’m gettirg very nevouse and scared. I keep having contractions but they are not rythmatic. 🙁

  16. jesster131 says:

    My water broke at home at 37 weeks. No contractions before that. I worked the day before that. I was supposed to work that day but told my boss I was done till after my son was born. I was just getting too tired. I went to the hospital after my water broke. 18 1/2 hours later we did a semi urgent c-section. Stubborn baby didn’t want to come out.

  17. mommy nhoj says:

    Good to know. I didn’t experience all of these because I delivered via scheduled CS.

  18. LIZ says:

    it was funny because my water broke and i didnt feel it, i thought that i was doing pee, (im a first time mom 🙂 )

    • sweety says:

      Ya firstly even I thought the same but theres still time so I dont know about myself. I was ashamed to tell this to my mother and mother in law,then my husband told me tell this.

  19. Dustin says:

    well my wife is 32 weeks and 3 days shes getting scared she might have problems with the birth shes having really hard presher in her back she hardly sleeps because the baby wont sleep without my hand on her tummy but i sleep in the day most of the time and am active at night the babys heads down and shes constently trying to push out my wifes scared so i started to do some research and i found this site can anyone help me with what to do

    • If you’re nervous about things, your best bet is to call the doctor. It can be normal to have pressure and back pain in later pregnancy, but if something doesn’t feel right the doctor can check things out. Best wishes to you!

  20. sylvia says:

    Now that I am getting closer to labor, I start to feel nervous since I am FTM!!! Hopefully my husband is home when my labor start!!!

  21. Erica says:

    I’m currently pregnant and I’m really scared my water isn’t going to break or i’m going to be in an enviorment where I won’t notice and something bad will happen.

  22. Angela says:

    With my first daughter I started having contractions around midnight on Monday, had an OB/GYN appointment Tuesday morning with NO progress and the doctors said, we’ll see you back in the few hours probably. I went to the hospital a few hours later because the contractions were getting really bad and I was sent home. The pain sucked and I cried off and on the next few hours. I finally went back in Tuesday night around midnight and I was kept because I was 4 1/2 cm dilated. I didn’t have my daughter until 9:36am Wednesday morning. I’m 30 weeks pregnant with my second and dreading labor. I hope I don’t have another experience like my first.

  23. Mary says:

    Today I am 35 weeks and 4 days. I’m so excited, but sometimes if I sit down and. Actually start thinking about it I get nervous.

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