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How does a woman know she’s in labor? What are the early signs?

One of the early signs of labor would be regular contractions. We usually have women time their contractions, and tell them to call us if they’re coming more than four to six times an hour and lasting at least 30 to 60 seconds. These are also stronger than Braxton Hicks contractions. They’ll sometimes start with some mild cramping, then increase to about four to six times an hour.

If you notice that one hour goes by and you have six contractions, and then the next hour goes by and you have 10 contractions, and you’re noticing that there is actually a pattern every 10 minutes or every five minutes that’s when we have you call the doctor just to let them know what’s going on.

Some other things that you can look for are mucus changes. You might notice bloody mucus or the mucus plug, which is a large amount of mucus that actually passes out some time between two weeks and a few days before actual labor starts. Sometimes the water breaks before contractions begin, either as a small trickle of fluid or a large gush. Usually when that happens, women are aware and they call us right away.