Timing your contractions will help you and your health care provider track what is happening. You will need to know how long your contractions last (duration) and how close together they are (frequency).
Duration is timed from when you first feel a contraction until it is over. This time is usually measured in seconds.
Frequency is timed from the start of one contraction to the start of the next. It includes the contraction as well as the rest period until the next contraction begins. This time is measured in minutes.
It is not necessary to time your whole labor. You may want to start timing your contractions when you think labor has started to see if there is a pattern.
You may also want to time contractions for a bit after there has been a change in how the contractions feel. That can give you a better idea of how much time you have to rest between each contraction. It can also help you decide when to go to the hospital.
Keeping a written labor log or using the "Beginnings" mobile app can help you see the pattern of your contractions. Partners and labor companions usually are the ones who time the contractions and keep the log. However, it is more important that you get the labor support you need than to have a complete labor log.
When you call your health care provider or hospital, you will need to give information about the duration and frequency of your contractions and about how long this has been the pattern.
Here are some terms you can use to describe the pattern of your contractions:
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8
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