in-labour

Timing your contractions

How to tell when they have started and timing them

Timing contractions

As you near the end of your pregnancy you might find yourself wondering 'have my contractions started, or is that just Braxton Hicks – or even wind?' with every twinge you feel in your tummy.

At a glance

  • Contractions are caused by your womb tightening and relaxing
  • They help to push your baby down into the birth canal
  • Time your contractions as soon as they start

And it's no wonder – if it's your first baby, you will have no idea what a contraction feels like, and even if you have given birth before, as you near your due date, you're practically hard-wired to think 'contractions starting!' with even the slightest ache or pain – particularly if you haven't had any other early labour signs like a show or your waters breaking.

What is a contraction and when does the klaxon go off?

Basically, the pain it is your womb tightening and relaxing, and is essentially like a very strong version of period pains. When labour is beginning, the contractions build up into longer, regular pains which peak before easing off and then starting again. Each contraction is helping to push your baby out of your womb and down into the birth canal.

Timing your contractions

It's important to start timing your contractions once they get going – when you call the hospital, one of the first things your midwife will ask is how often you are contracting. As a rough guide, if they are lasting for more than thirty seconds, are coming regularly (around every five minutes) and feel strong, then you are probably in labour, so make that call!

Why not use our contraction timer on our Baby Diary app to plot your labour?

Care to share? Speak to other mums in the Bounty Community on how they timed their contractions.

At a glance

  • Contractions are caused by your womb tightening and relaxing
  • They help to push your baby down into the birth canal
  • Time your contractions as soon as they start

Timing your contractions