A question for the mom's

Hi All, I’ve got a question for the mon’s out there (or maybe even the dad’s!).
We’re having our first baby (due any day now), and we were wondering exactly when to go to the hospital/call the doctor (how far apart should the contractions be etc)? Or any other tips would be welcome.
The reason for the late post is that we’ve been told different things by different people and I always - well usually :slight_smile: defer to the collective wisdom of TSD!


mom’s = belonging to mom

moms = several persons called mom


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astronut, it can be hard to tell when it’s time to go to the hospital. If her water breaks, or if she has bleeding, go right away! Otherwise it’s a judgement call. The doctor bases his judgement of when you’re “allowed” to stay at the hospital by the number of centimeters dilation (usually 4) but obviously most people aren’t able to accurately measure their own cervixes. First babies typically take longer (beware that there are exceptions) so chances are you’ll have more time than you think.
If you think it’s time to go, but you’re unsure, call the hospital or your doctor and ask.
Remember it’s better to err on the side of caution; if you go too early the worst thing that can happen is they’ll send you home. If you go too late, well, that would be bad.

For cryin’ out loud…

Why would you ask people on this Board? Experiences are all different and amusing, but not necessarily good guidance for your particular situation.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR, for Pete’s sake!

Assuming you have a regular obstetrician or midwife who’s been looking after the mother-to-be during her pregnancy, call him or her as soon as the question arises.

Immediately call the doctor if: the water breaks, blood begins coming out, or the contractions begin. If she’s been having contractions for a while, but weak ones (aka Braxton-Hicks contractions), the true labor-related ones should be noticeably stronger.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

Re the [PET PEEVE ALERT] - Sorry! these things always slip by me. I try but…

Re “ASK YOUR DOCTOR, for Pete’s sake” - We did! the thing is that she told us to come in when the contractions are 3 minutes apart - all other sources tell us that that is too close. I know, I know - listen to your doctor etc., but we just want to get more information.

I think the basic rule seems to be “Immediately call the doctor if: the water breaks, blood begins coming out, or the contractions begin”? (sidebar - a friend had a baby a couple of weeks ago, she says her water broke but she did not go into labor until 2 days later! possible?)

Regarding the water breaking: The doctors office always tells you to call when your water breaks and the RUSH to the hospital. Then you (for first timers) sit there waiting for something to happen. I think they are more afraid of infection, which is fairly remote if you don’t take a bath in toilet water than the baby slipping out. ( Yeah, if only it were that easy.) If your contractions are 5-10 minutes apart, and your water breaks, then go to the hospital. It is possible to have your water break and no contractions for awhile.


Yes, it’s possible…not likely, but definitely possible. If a woman’s water breaks and contractions haven’t yet started by 24 hours later, the doctor will usually choose to induce, usually out of fear that the baby will have a hard time with respiration absent its fluid environment. (I guess your friend’s doctor feels comfortable waiting longer.)

Shirley Ujest:

I can tell you from experience that it’s not “always.”

Chaim Mattis Keller

My wife’s water broke on Saturday morning. We went to the hospital right away. Sunday night they finally induced labor. So, just because your water breaks, don’t necessarily go running red lights and stop signs to get to the hospital.

My water broke on a Sunday. Nothing happened. They induced labor the next day. Nothing happened. They sent me home and told me to call them everyday and report everything happening to them. Greg was born on Friday. Every case varies, dear. :slight_smile:

Sometimes life is so great you just gotta muss up your hair and quack like a duck!

When the water breaks before the baby’s head is engaged, there’s a chance of the cord slipping down and becoming pinched between the baby’s head and mom’s pelvis. This is a medical emergency- about the worst thing that can happen in obstetrics, because the baby will suffocate. That’s why you’re supposed to get to the hospital right away, so the doctor can check it out and be sure everything’s in the appropriate place.
Chances are it will be, but not the kind of thing to be too casual about.

I had contractions every 10 minutes for about an hour… every #$^&ing night for 2 months.

Luckily I only lived 5 minutes from the hospital, or I would have been labeled as some kind of nut!!!

Finally, my water broke, sort of. Sort of because the baby was so low it was only a tiny amount of fluid that leaked. I was holding my daughter 30 minutes later (with my legs crossed - the doc was still scrubbing!) Kristy was born about an hour after my water broke.

If anything is going on, call your delivery center. Make sure they know how far you live away. Listen to them. Every mom is different; every baby is different.

Sue from El Paso

You don’t have to be panicky, but you should be cautious. I learned the hard way.

I started having contractions 7 weeks before my daughter was due. I knew that is wasn’t time for her to be born so I figured I was having false labor pains. I decided to “walk it off” at the mall with my son who was 2 years old at the time. Fighting a tired, stubborn 2 year old in the middle of a crowded mall (he wanted to go up and down the escalators a few thousand times) while having heavy contractions every 5 minutes is an experience I don’t want to repeat.

By the time I finally went to the hospital a day and a half later (supposedly for a shot to stop false labor pains) I was dilated to an 8. The hospital I went to did not have a newborn intensive care unit at the time so I was transported to another hospital and nearly gave birth in the hallway.

Luckily, other than a few weeks in the preemie ward, things turned out okay. Had I waited much longer, she would have been born at home and would have died without the medical care needed for a preemie.

Don’t be embarassed if you make a few false trips to the hospital. Better safe than sorry.


Coarse and violent nudity. Occasional language.

This goes in the “obvious” category: make sure you factor in the travel time. Our hospital was 30-40 minutes away in good traffic and well over an hour away in rush hour. If travel time is a factor make sure the doctor/hospital has that information, it may change their recommendation.

Been there, done that, got three sons to prove it!

Thank you all for your replies. I think one of the reasons we are nervous is because my wife is just not sure whether she is having contractions! However, as our Lamaze instructor told us “when it happens - you’ll know!” so dont worry.

Not to scare you, Astronut, but “when it happens, you’ll know” isn’t always the case.

If you have a question, call the OB. That’s what they’re there for, and (trust me on this) you WON’T be the first person to get sent back home if your wife isn’t really in labor.

With my first, my contractions started at 5 mins apart. I called the doctor, thinking “Wow, this should be nice and quick”. My daughter was born 19 hours later. You just never know, every labor is different. When in doubt, call the doc.

Good luck! Be sure to post and tell us all how it goes.

In my case, my OB’s rule of thumb was:

Contractions should be, at most, five minutes apart for at least one hour.

They should get stronger, possibly closer together.

If that’s what’s going on, CALL the OB, don’t go to the hospital yet. If it’s after office hours, you’ll generally leave a message with the answering service or you’ll be paging the doctor directly, so you’ll receive a timely callback. Describe what’s going on. The OB has been monitoring you for nearly nine months now, he/she knows your individual condition and can make a pretty good judgement call as to whether or not to have you check in. Depending on how far along you are, how much progress your body has made (i.e. baby dropping, cervical dilation, loss of mucous plug, etc.) and the circumstances surrounding your call in the first place, the doc will decide whether you need to go to the hospital or wait it out for another hour or so before going.

Every pregnancy is different, but like I said, that was my OB’s general way of handling things.

Congratulations, BTW. You’re in for the time of your life. Whoever said that kids were not toys was wrong. Bowen entertains me more than any toy I’ve ever had.

–Christina D. Sanders–
Purveyor of Substandard Poetry
Queen of Idealism
Prisoner of Realism
Mistress of Surrealism
Hunter of new -isms
Professional Procrastinator
Suburban Savage
Jane Doe Extraordinaire

Just wanted to thank you all for your inputs. Our daughter was born on the 7th (8.3lbs) and life hasn’t been the same since (I haven’t visited the SDMB since she was born!)
It was a normal delivery and my wife did not take any sort of medication (frankly I could have used a little something myself!)

Yay! Great news! Congratulations and


Congratulations, Astronut!

:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

May your little girl bring much light and happiness into your life.

Chaim Mattis Keller