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As your body prepares for birth, your baby will drop in your uterus. This means your body is preparing for labor and your baby is moving into position.

How will you know when it’s time to come to the hospital? Remember 5-1-1. When your contractions are 5 minutes apart, last 1 minute, and you’ve experienced this pattern for 1 hour, you should go to the MetroHealth Birthing Center to be checked by a provider.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to come to the hospital before you have “5-1-1” contractions. If you’re experiencing any of the following, go to the MetroHealth Birthing Center to be assessed. Of course, if your provider has provided other instructions, follow those first.

Signs you need to come to the hospital
  • Vomiting during contractions
  • Rectal pressure
  • Contractions that make you unable to walk or talk
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Fluid from vagina (“water breaking”)
  • Baby is moving less than normal


It can be difficult to understand the difference between true contractions and “warm up” contractions. True contractions are the contractions you should count as you monitor for “5-1-1.”

True contractions
  • Tighten the entire uterus
  • Increase in frequency
  • Usually cause pressure on lower back/lower belly
  • Last longer as they progress
  • Do not stop when you change activity (walking may make them stronger)
  • Become stronger over time
  • Case the cervix to thin and open
Warm-up Contractions
  • Tighten only portions of the uterus
  • Have no regular pattern
  • Don’t cause back pressure
  • Ease up over time
  • May stop when you rest, walk, or take a warm bath
  • Lose intensity over time
  • Do not cause cervical changes