are you in labor
Labor Pregnancy

Are You In Labor? 

Many people don’t know the difference between being in true or false labor.  I can say from experience there is a difference, and you can tell the difference when you feel it. Either way, be excited because you must be very close to holding your baby soon! 

When will I go into labor?

Your doctor will give you your due date after your first ultrasound. It is an estimate of when you will give birth, and it is calculated using the first day of your last period. However, again it is just an estimation. Approximately only 5 percent of women actually give birth on their due dates. Once your water breaks, or you feel contractions that is when you should call labor and delivery and explain to them your symptoms. If the doctors agree that you may be in labor, they will tell you to go to the hospital. 

What is false labor, and how to recognize it?

When you feel very painful contractions, sometimes your body is just preparing for labor. These symptoms usually confuse a mother and may lead her to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, she will be sent back with no progressing dilation. 

The following symptoms are indicators that it is not the real thing.

  • Contractions: The length of contractions and the time between them is irregular. They may stay weak, or begin strong but get weaker. 
  • Change of Activity Changes Symptoms: During false labor, taking a bath, walking, or changing positions would decrease the intensity of contractions.
  • Lack of Other Symptoms: Usually during false labor, you will not bleed, your water will not break and you will have no abnormal discharge.

How many stages are there? 

There are three stages of labor. The first stage includes the early and active stage of labor which can last up to 20 hours or more. It involves the dilation of the cervix from 1 cm to 10 cm. Once the cervix dilates to 6 cm, you enter the active stage which involves very strong contractions. The second stage of labor is the birth of your baby. The third stage of labor is the delivery of the placenta. 

are you in labor

How to recognize actual labor? Usually, this stage is the first stage of labor. 

The following symptoms are indicators of actual labor.

  • Discharge: You may see blood, the mucus plug, and discolored discharge.
  • Contractions: Contractions will start off weak and increase with time. Whether you take a bath, change positions, or walk, nothing will decrease the intensity of contractions. They will become longer and get closer together. They would last between 30-70 seconds and come every 5 minutes or less.
  • Water Breaks: Your water may or may not break. My water broke when I was in the pushing stage.
  • Backache: You may have a backache that will get extremely worse and lead to contractions.

When should you go to the hospital?

  • If this is your first baby, then you should go to the hospital when your contractions last for more than 45 seconds, and between each contraction is 3-5 minutes. 
  • If this is not your first baby, then you should go to the hospital when your contractions last more than 45 seconds and between each contraction is 5-7 minutes. 


  1. Wow! Everything an expected mother needs to know. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had no idea what to expect. Reading a post like this one would’ve prepared me for the unknown. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Ok this is great! I will have to save this for when i have kids thanks for sharing this information

  3. All three of my labors were completely different. You just have to be aware of your body!

    1. Halimeh Salem says:

      Yes that is true.

  4. Amber Myers says:

    Oh gosh, I remember this. I knew I was in labor when it hurt. Then I was like, “Epidural time.”

    1. Halimeh Salem says:

      Yes me too!

  5. I have had two kids and both labours were completely different. Great experience I have to say, after all. When you see the little face, you forget about all the pain you’ve just been through. Amazing!

  6. A useful post for the mons to be x

  7. A useful post for the moms to be x

  8. oh gosh it’s been 20 years for me! Always great info and tips to have

  9. This couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m 37+5 and really hoping for a December baby, so I’m reading labor into every little twinge. It’s good to know how to recognize the real thing when it’s finally time!

  10. I was actually in active labor at the hospital and the nurses were absolutely amazed that I didn’t feel any of the contractions. Then, a couple hours later I just hit the ground they were so bad. I was so glad to have a jacuzzi tub in my delivery room! The human body is such a wild thing.

  11. Ashley t says:

    This is very useful information for any one that is pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

  12. This is so helpful and well detailed

  13. This is great information. I never had contractions on my own with any of my births (had to have Pitocin). Even the one when my water broke!

  14. I remember when I went into labor with both my kiddos. First one was a panic of course second one was an alright here we go again!

  15. Shayla says:

    This is super helpful to expectant mama’s. Another thing with false labor, it becomes more common the more children one has.

  16. Oh how this would have been helpful 8 years ago! LOL

  17. Audrey says:

    This is such a helpful post

  18. Cecilia says:

    Great post! I know this will be helpful for new mothers! This is was it was like for me too!

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