5 Ways to Know for Sure that You’re in Labor

Image via J&J Brusie Photography

It's the million-dollar question when you're pregnant: how do you know if you're really in labor?

Well, pregnant ladies of the land, I have good news and bad news for you.

First up, let's get the bad news out of the way first: there really is no one way, 100% certain, no-fail, absolute guaranteed way for someone to know if they are in real, active labor unless 1) you know you are dilating past, say, 4 centimeters, and 2) the baby is coming.

{ MORE: What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for a C-Section Delivery }

But next, we have the good news: there are still some very good ways to tell if you're more than likely in labor before you head to the hospital. So let's break them down, shall we?


Image via Flickr/ amseaman

1. Walk around

My tried-and-true trick for determining if my contractions were “real” with each of my four pregnancies was to get up and walk around. If the contractions get worse with walking, I knew they were the real deal. If they got less intense with walking, they weren't the kind that lead to a baby.

woman drinking water
Image via iStock

2. Drink some water

Dehydration = contractions. If you're able to guzzle some water, put your feet up, and get rid of those contractions, then, sorry — they're not real.


Image via Flickr/ phalinn

3. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I leaking any fluid?
  • Am I bleeding at all?
  • Am I feeling a decrease in the baby's movements?

If the answer to any of those is “yes,” get yourself to the hospital right away.

Image via Flickr/ Johnath

4. Do you just feel “off?”


This is totally unscientific, but women know when something is different in their bodies, and many times, in the hospital, when a woman would come in to be evaluated for labor, even if she wasn't showing physical signs of labor yet, I would pay attention to her if she said she felt “strange” or like something was “off,” because 9 times out of 10, if we waited a little bit, she would go into labor — and quickly.

pregnant sleeping rest nap
Image via Flickr/ ::coco Rina::

5. Remember that labor = cervical change.

OK, now I'm about to get technical on you. The only way to know for sure if you're in labor is to measure your cervical progression. Or, in other words, if your cervix is changing by dilating or thinning out consistently, then congrats, you're in labor!

So moral of the story is this: if you're having regular contractions every 2 to 3 minutes, or consistent back pain (some women feel contractions as back pain instead of in the front), it is definitely best to have an evaluation to see if you're in labor. And if you're bleeding or leaking fluid at all, or you've have noticed a decrease in the baby's movement or you are having contractions before 36 weeks, you need to get to a hospital right away.

{ MORE: You Don't Have to Complain About Your Kids to Be a #RealMom }

And obviously, don't substitute this article for professional advice — it's just based on my own personal experience, and you should always follow my OB doctor's rule: when in doubt, check it out! Or in other words, always seek the advice of your personal pregnancy care provider.

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5 Ways to Know for Sure that You’re in Labor

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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