How the heck do you time your contractions?


Finally after all this time you feel your first contraction! You may be feeling excitement, nervous, or anywhere in between. Feeling a little bit of anxiety is normal in this instance, you’ve been waiting weeks and weeks, now it’s finally here. Now you may be wondering, “When do I go to the hospital?” Timing contractions is very important to do correctly or else you can end up going to the hospital too early (and get sent home), or too late.  

To find out how far apart your contractions are:  take your stopwatch and time your contraction from the time from when one contraction begins to the beginning of the next one.

Contraction A begins (start)………Contraction A ends………Contraction B begins (stop)

To find out the length of your contractions: take your stopwatch and time your contraction from the beginning to the end.

Contraction A begins (start)…………………. Contraction A ends (stop)

But when do I go to the hospital?

Most OBs and Midwives go off of a 5-1-1 or a 4-1-1 timing meaning the contractions are 5 (or 4) minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute, for at least 1 hour. However ask your care provider what method for when to go to hospital they use.

One important thing too is the Intensity. Your well-being and comfort is first and foremost.

Sometimes women are at the 5-1-1 mark and they may be acting normally, while other women at the same point are having their breath taken away (active labor). If you feel like you need to go, then go.

If something seems amiss you should contact your care provider as well.

A good way to track your contractions is to download an app on your smartphone if you have one. Simply look up, Contraction Timer. Try to do this before contractions start so you can see what app you like.

Some popular ones for Android:

  1. Contraction Timer by James Ots
  2. Contraction Time by Ian Lake
  3. Easy Contraction Timer by Cucerob (Intensity rating feature)


Source & ProDoula Labor Doula Certification Workbook



One thought on “How the heck do you time your contractions?

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