First-time mothers may not be aware of labour pains. However, if the contractions start with an intensity, take about 25 to 45 minutes to fade and occur at intervals shorter than 5 minutes, you must immediately go to the hospital. The hospital you check into will inform your doctor of your status.
If you have checked the length of the intervals in between the contractions with the help of a watch, you must inform your doctor of their frequency, duration and intensity. You do not need to go to the hospital immediately after the labour pain starts. However, if the contractions occur every 4 to 5 minutes, then you must be at the hospital. Sometimes contractions that resemble labour pain could cause the parents to head to the hospital in panic. You have to distinguish between real and false labour pains and be able to do this by observing the situation and noticing the differences.

False labour pains:
● They are irregular in terms of their frequency and intensity
● They may cease after relaxation, breathing exercises, massage and a period of rest
● They do not cause softening and dilatation of the cervix.

Real labour pains:
● They do not cease regardless of what you do
● They cause softening and dilatation of the cervix.

Things to be done at home:
● You can try sleeping, drinking water, using the washroom, walking around, and resting. You will need to be active during the active phase of labour at the hospital, therefore it is important to preserve your energy at the beginning of labour when you are at home.
● You can take a shower. The contractions could cease after the shower, meaning they were false labour pains. However, if your contractions increase in intensity and frequency in the aftermath of the shower, this points to the start of your labour.
● You can ask someone to give you a massage. Applying pressure starting from your waist down to your hips, and on your waist and hips with the balls of a hand could be relaxing.
● You can check the luggage you will take with you.
● You can snack on energising food items, such as chocolate spread on whole wheat bread…

If all signs show that you are ready to go to the hospital, you can call your doctor any time regardless of the hour. Your doctor has probably told you to call when the contractions are of certain frequency, such as every 5, 8 or 10 minutes. You should call your doctor when at least some of your contractions occur in this time range. Do not wait till all your contractions happen at the same frequency; this may not happen.
Under the following circumstances you should immediately call your doctor: if the contractions have started when there are still weeks till the delivery date and the amniotic fluid is a greenish-brownish colour.

It is not necessary to go to the hospital immediately after the real labour contractions start. However, if your water breaks, there is bleeding, and there are sudden intense and frequent bouts of pain you should immediately go to the hospital. When the interval between contractions is five minutes, you should leave home to go to the hospital. However, if the hospital is far away from your home, you should leave earlier.

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