Preparing for Delivery : When to Go to the Hospital

Preparing for delivery can be very exciting and overwhelming all at once. You’re ready for your little one to come into the world and to be a proud mother.

But what actually happens when labor begins? The cervix opens (dilates) and the uterus contracts at regular intervals. The uterus becomes firm over a minute, then relaxes. It may be uncomfortable and painful – but when do you go to your doctor?

Here are our tips on knowing when you are going into labor, and what you should do when these symptoms occur. You can also download our Maternity Checklist to keep track of all the need-to-have items for delivery!

Maternity Checklist: Preparing for Delivery

Click to download WMMC’s Maternity Checklist today!


What are the symptoms of going into labor?

Contractions become closer together and stronger. Each contractions lasts approximately one minute. Contractions remain strong despite movement or comfort measures. The strength of contractions increase steadily, and abdominal pain that involves entire uterus spreads to the back area. True labor contractions will not decline when resting or soaking in a tub.

Do I have to wait for my water to break before coming to the hospital?

NO! Only 1 out of 10 woman experience a gush of water with labor.


How do I know if it’s time to go to the hospital for delivery?

Any of these:  Remember the 5-1-1 Rule.

  1. Contractions coming every 5 minutes, lasting 1 minute over 1 hour of time. (Count time from beginning of one contraction to beginning of the next contraction.)
  2. Leaking of fluid.
  3. Contractions become more intense and you have to breathe to get through each contraction. (I teach my classes that if you can talk on phone, text message friends, or look at Facebook; then you are not in labor.)
  4. Decrease or absent fetal movement.
  5. Bright red heavy bleeding. (Normal mucous discharge with light pink color can be expected.)


If it’s not time to go to the hospital, can I do anything to ease the pain?

Exercise can be good, but remember to save your energy for the up-coming marathon of labor.

Ideas of comfort:

  1. Warm bath/shower
  2. Lying on your side or getting onto your hands and knees to relieve back pain.
  3. Over the counter Tylenol can ease back aches.
  4. Labor balls work well to decrease pelvic and back pressure.
  5. Stayed hydrated.

What are signs that I should I call my Obstetrics Department?

  1. Decrease or absent fetal movement. (One hour should get 5 fetal movements. Get comfortable, cold fluid, and lay on your side and start timing.)
  2. Headaches with no relieve from Tylenol and rest. (Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking medications.)
  3. Blurred vision, seeing spots, sharp abdominal pain from right side radiating up to your chest, and increase in swelling in your hands and feet.
  4. Contractions prior to 37 weeks gestation.
  5. Follow your gut instinct. If you feel something is not right, call! WMMC’s OB Department phone number is (660) 262-7514.


Where can I get more information?

WMMC offers a two night Childbirth Class on the first and second Wednesday of every month.

This two night course includes:

  1. Personal in-depth tour of our Birthing Center.
  2. Hands on teaching about monitors and equipment used in the delivery room.
  3. Information on pain control options (with or without medications)
  4. Information about procedures available: C-sections, circumcisions, assisted deliveries, epidurals, etc.
  5. Discussion of what to expect during your stay at our Birthing Center.

Breastfeeding and Infant Care classes are also offered. To register for any of these classes call (660) 262-7514.

Discuss labor signs and precautions with your Primary Provider during your next OB office appointment. If you are considering about delivering at WMMC’s Obstetrics Department, book a tour or learn more about Elizabeth’s Story and her experience at WMMC’s Birthing Center.


Author: Connie Judd-Sullivan, RN, OB CNC


Other Recent Posts by WMMC:

10 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Breastfeeding

Wendy’s Story: Overcoming Triple Negative Breast Cancer

WMMC Foundation to Host Pink Up! Auction Featuring Mules Jerseys



About Western Missouri Medical Center

Western Missouri Medical Center (WMMC) is a fully-accredited acute care county medical center located in Warrensburg, MO. WMMC prides itself in emergency care, obstetrics, orthopedic and general surgery, family healthcare, internal medicine, outpatient clinics, ambulatory care, rehabilitation services and more. Inpatient services include medical, surgical, intensive, obstetrical, orthopedic, pediatric and skilled nursing care, as well as a wide range of therapeutic and diagnostic outpatient services. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Learn more at