How to Time Your Contractions During Labor

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As you near the end of your pregnancy and your due date is near (or has passed), it’s important to start watching for signs of contractions. There are different types of contractions, but if you time your contractions, you’ll know if you’re actually in labor — aka when to call your midwife or go to the hospital. hospital or birth center.

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This guide to when to have contractions will help you tell the difference between different types of contractions and help you determine your place in false, early, or active labor. Be sure to share this information with your partner: By the time your contractions are fast and intense, you’ll probably be too distracted to focus on the stopwatch or the app.

Why are time contractions important?

Timing your contractions can help you determine if you’ve had a successful labor and know what stage of labor you’re in so you know what to do. You should also know how to time your contractions before your due date so you can recognize the signs of preterm labor.

Even if the water breaks (meaning the amniotic sac the baby is floating in has broken), your doctor may instruct you to wait until the contractions are regular and close together before you arrive. Planned delivery depends on your medical history. and circumstances. You are not in labor until your contractions come in at a steady rate and continuously increase in both intensity and duration.

Signs of labor contractions

The contractions can feel like very strong menstrual cramps: You’ll likely feel pressure or a dull ache in your back and lower abdomen in a wave-like motion from the top of your uterus downwards.

How strong the contractions are will help you tell the difference between a Braxton-Hick contraction and a real labor contraction. Braxton-Hicks are usually weaker, infrequent and infrequent. They usually do not cause any real pain and by definition do not cause cervical changes.

Meanwhile, labor contractions will be stronger and will come at a steady rate.

Some signs of labor include:

  • Frequent strong contractions
  • Pain
  • Discharge
  • Water break

If you’re experiencing most — or all — of these symptoms, it’s time to start timing your contractions.

How long do contractions last?

Each stage of labor is characterized by the extent to which the cervix has dilated, as well as the duration of contractions:

  • Early labor: The cervix has dilated from complete closure to 3 cm (cm) in diameter. The contractions are mild — similar to menstrual cramps — and irregular. Each contraction lasts from 30 to 45 seconds and occurs 5 to 20 minutes apart.
  • Active Labor: The cervix will dilate from 4 cm to 7 cm and the contractions will become stronger and last longer. Typically, they will last 45 to 60 seconds, with three to five minutes in between each. This is the point where you should usually call your doctor and/or go to the hospital or birth center.
  • Forward: During this final stage of labor before childbirth, the cervix is ​​fully dilated — from 8 cm to 10 cm. Contractions can be so long and intense that they seem to overlap. Each session should last about 60 to 90 seconds with only 30 seconds to two minutes of rest between each session.

In general, labor can take 12 to 24 hours for the first birth and about 8 to 10 hours for subsequent births. However, everyone is different and every pregnancy is different. Some people go into labor much longer or shorter than average. The individual’s pain tolerance and perception should also be considered.

How to shrink time

There are apps for timing contractions, but using a trusted seconds hand or digital watch should work just as well. You can also use the stopwatch app on your phone. Whatever you use, here are the steps to do it.

Get a pad of sticky notes so you can do the simple math needed to determine how long each of your contractions lasts:

  1. When a contraction begins, record the time briefly.
  2. When a contraction ends, record the time.
  3. Do the math: The difference between the start and end time of a contraction shows how long the contraction lasts.
  4. As soon as the next contraction begins, record the time.
  5. Record the time elapsed from the end of the first contraction to the beginning of the second. This tells you how far apart your contractions are or how often they are.
  6. Continue to time each contraction for a few more rounds to see if they have gone into their normal fold. If they don’t, take a break.
Sample shrink time chart
Miniature time has begun Time has ended Period (in seconds) Regularity (in minutes)
Part 1 10:00:02 am 10:00:32 am 30 seconds
Part 2 10:15:01 am 10:15:42 am 41 seconds 15 minutes
Part 3 10:26:00 am 10:26:35 am 35 seconds 10 minutes

When to go to the hospital?

During the last few weeks of your pregnancy, you’ll want to discuss your birth plans with your doctor so you know what to do once labor begins. Here are some general guidelines, but remember, each woman’s individual situation may be different.

In general, though, unless your doctor or midwife has told you otherwise, you should go to the hospital or place you chose to give birth when your contractions are every 3-5 minutes apart. and they last 45 seconds to 60 seconds over the course of the hour if this is your first baby.

If you’ve given birth to a baby, start going to the hospital when contractions come every 5 to 7 minutes and last between 45 seconds and 60 seconds each.

However, if you have bleeding, fever, or extreme pain, call your doctor and go to the hospital right away.

A very good word

Timing of contractions is an important tool to help you determine when you’re going into labor and when it’s possible to get to where you’re due. However, while the guidelines provided in this article are useful tools, you should always talk to your provider about your individual birth plan so they can advise you based on your needs. on your own circumstances.

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