Ask your health care provider when you should call the office and go to the hospital. This will depend on how far away you live from the hospital, whether this is your first child, how long any previous labors have been, and whether or not your health care provider anticipates any problems.
In general, we want you to go to the hospital when you're in active labor.
General guidelines on when to call
If this is your first baby, call your health care provider when:
You can no longer walk or talk through contractions.
Contractions are regular, starting every 3 to 5 minutes over an hour period. Count from the beginning of a contraction to the beginning of the next contraction.
Contractions last at least 45 to 60 seconds. (30-second contractions probably are early labor or false labor.)
Contractions become stronger when you are walking.
If you've given birth before, call when:
Contractions are every 5 to 7 minutes.
Contractions last at least 45 to 60 seconds.
Contractions become stronger when you're walking.
When your water breaks
Call your health care provider when your water breaks. If it breaks before your contractions start, ask your provider what to do.
Be sure to tell your provider what time your water broke, what color the fluid was, and how much came out (a lot or just a little).
Use a pad or a towel (not a tampon) to absorb the fluid. Don't have intercourse or put anything into your vagina after your water breaks.
From the "Birth Day News" series.
Clinical review by James Greene, MD