Des Moines Maternity Centers | Are You in Labor? Recognizing the Signs

UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Altoona

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Urgent Care - Ankeny

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Urgent Care - Lakeview

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Urgent Care - Merle Hay

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Urgent Care - Southglen

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Urgent Care - Urbandale

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Recognize the Signs of Labor

This information will help you become aware of the various symptoms of early labor you may experience. However, remember that not all women have the same signs of labor. If you have any questions or concerns about your symptoms, you should call your OB/GYN or midwife.

How to Time Contractions

Start timing (in minutes) from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next contraction. 

Signs of Labor

  • Your contractions will occur at consistent times. With your first baby, it is when contractions are five minutes apart for one hour. If you have had a baby before, it is when contractions are six to eight minutes apart for one hour.
  • The time between your contractions becomes shorter.
  • Your discomfort increases. It can be difficult to talk or walk during contractions.  
  • Your contractions get stronger when you’re walking and do not lessen when you’re resting.
  • You have a bloody discharge. 
  • You feel like you need to have a bowel movement.

Signs of False Labor

  • Your contractions come and go. They may be regular or irregular, but they do not get stronger.
  • When resting, your contractions don’t happen as often or aren’t as strong.
  • The time between contractions stays the same or they are farther apart.
  • There is no cervical change when you’re examined by a physician or nurse.

Signs of Pre-Term Labor

Pre-Term Labor is labor that begins more than three weeks before your due date. 

  • You have cramps that are like having your period. Your stomach feels like it is tightening into a ball.
  • There is pressure on your pelvis. 
  • Your lower back aches.
  • You have a new vaginal discharge or more vaginal discharge, especially if red or pink.
  • You have pains or cramps every 10 minutes or less that don’t go away after resting, drinking fluids or peeing.

Labor Signs that Require Immediate Evaluation

  • Your water breaks. Even if you aren’t having contractions, you will need to be seen in the hospital. When your water breaks, there is either a gush of fluid or a steady trickle that you can't control. Fluid may be clear, yellow, green or pinkish.
  • You have constant and severe abdominal pain.
  • You have bleeding like your period that is bright red.
  • There is constant pressure like you need to have a bowel movement.
  • Your baby has decreased movement or kicks. For example, you count less than eight kicks in two hours.
  • You have a constant or severe headache.
  • You see spots or your vision is blurry. 
  • You’re experiencing chills or fever.
  • You faint or lose consciousness.
  • You are vomiting or have severe nausea.

When labor begins, call your OB/GYN or Midwife.

Arrival Instructions for the Hospital

Find directions for getting to each of our three maternity centers, including where to park and how to enter the building depending on the time of day or night. 

Directions for Getting to the Maternity Centers