So you notice you are having contractions and they seem to come and go. You can try timing them. To time a contraction you time the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next contraction. This is how far apart they are. Note the duration of the sensation as well. What you should start to see is a pattern. There are many apps for timing this or you can use an old fashioned watch or clock.
Longer, stronger, closer together is the key to a labor pattern.
Your contractions should fall into a rhythm of sorts. Maybe they begin at 8 minutes apart lasting about 30 seconds. Then you feel a shift of intensity and you time them again. Now you notice they are 6 mins apart lasting 40 seconds. This appears to be a labor pattern. The sensations are getting longer, feeling stronger, and are closer together than they were before.
When is it time to head to the hospital?
The 5-1-1 or 4-1-1.
When your contractions are 5 minutes or 4 minutes apart, lasting one minute long, for the course of an hour, it is time to head to the hospital. Ideally you will get to the hospital in an active labor pattern.
Notify your provider that your are heading in or you can always ask them if they feel its a good time to come to the hospital as well. Of course talk to your doula as soon as you think anything is going on. She can offer suggestions, listen, and remind you of ways to cope!
There are some variables that can change when to head in. If you are high risk, GBS positive, or your water is broken, are some instances that can change the timing. It is a good idea to discuss with your doctor or midwife what it looks like when you think you are in labor. Let them tell you what they prefer in your specific instance.
So remember, longer, stronger, closer together and the 4-1-1 will help you decide when it is time to go! Safe travels ahead!
Dana Lange is a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and wonderful human being! We are thrilled she joined our team to bring safety and security to all of the families we serve. She brings her knowledge and compassion with everyone she works with. Read below to learn more about one of our favorite people!
Dana Lange, CPST, with her family.
Tell us about your family. “My husband, Nate, is an introvert with a wicked sense of humor, and he makes us laugh every day. I always say that “he speaks Dana” because when I forget my words (which is fairly often) he will literally finish my sentences for me. Our kids, Hannah and Nathan, are both exhausting and incredible. Hannah loves science, reading, her teacher, and the Sims. Nathan loves to pretend to be bad guys from Star Wars, but I try not to worry about this too much since he also loves to cuddle with his mama every night.”
What are you reading now? “The Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon.”
Trust your instincts and don’t get overwhelmed by the small stuff. Babies don’t need much to thrive and we all have it inside of us to do what’s best for our children. – Dana Lange
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why? “Super strength because car seats are heavy!”
When Dana isn’t busy checking car seats for proper installation and helping parents, you can find her working out at the gym with her new gym membership. You may catch her listening to Hamilton: An American Musical Soundtrack or a RadioLab Podcast. She also enjoys reading and blogging!
What is your “path” that lead you to your career? “My kids are the reason I do what I do. After my daughter was born I immersed myself in this whole new world of being a mom. One of the things that I found to be most interesting was car seats; I loved reading about them and considered myself to be fairly competent, so you can imagine my surprise when I went to a CPST and found out my own daughter’s car seat was installed incorrectly. The more research I did and the more eager to learn I became, so after 6 years of being an advocate I finally decided to become certified as a child passenger safety technician. I’m still learning every day and it’s an honor to be able to help families while fulfilling a passion.”
What is your favorite song to karaoke? “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mixalot.