How to Recognise Labour Contractions

How to Recognise Labour Contractions

During pregnancy, expectant mothers experience contractions due to their baby moving inside the uterus, especially in the final weeks. This can cause great alarm for prospective parents and many end up running to the doctor's in the fear that labour may have already started. It is useful for you to recognise labour contractions so you know when it's best to go to the hospital or clinic and when it's just a false alarm. These signs are different in every woman, and you might only recognise them for sure once you've already had a pregnancy before. However, in this OneHowTo article we're going to explain you some of the most common symptoms of labour contractions so you can know for certain if you're in labour.

Steps to follow:

Throughout pregnancy, it is normal to experience contractions at various points. The most alarming ones are those experienced during the final weeks of pregnancy because they may lead you to believe that the time has come. These painless contractions that occur during pregnancy are called Braxton Hicks contractions.

Did you know that castor oil can speed up labour contractions?


Such contractions occur irregularly. They feel similar to menstrual discomfort as a sort of cramp which is not very intense or painful, and suddenly stops without any repetition for days or weeks. This is one way in which the body is preparing the uterus for labour.


Labour contractions are characterised by arriving in regular time intervals. At the start, they arrive in intervals of between 15 minutes and half an hour of each other. Little by little, they happen more frequently, at even time intervals.


Once labour contractions start, they do not stop but begin to increase.


The pain becomes more intense due to the work performed by the muscles of the cervix. This pain ceases between contractions and returns when contractions start again.


Before running off to the hospital, you need to stay calm and measure the duration and time intervals of each contraction. Initially, they will between 15 and 30 minutes of each other and will last between 15 and 20 seconds.


When the contractions continue and occur every 10 minutes, lasting about 1 minute each time, it's time to take your things and go to the hospital because your baby is nearly ready to be born.


You can cope with labour pain once it begins by following some recommendations:

  • If you can, walk or move as this might help you with the contractions.
  • Drink fluids or isotonic drinks that will keep you energized.
  • If you feel hungry, have a snack. However, many women feel nauseous and sick, so eating might not be the best in this case.
  • When the contractions get stronger you can try relaxation and breathing exercises.
  • Your partner can rub your back and lower back, as this will help decrease the pain.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Recognise Labour Contractions, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

  • It is important to avoid feeling panicked or unnecessarily worried. Act calmly before dashing off to the hospital for a false alarm.
  • If you're not sure if you've gone into labour, it's best you call your doctor or midwife and tell them your exact symptoms so they can tell you what you need to do.