Your First Steps If You Go Into Labor Early

 Your First Steps If You Go Into Labor Early

When you’re pregnant, you do everything you can to ensure a happy, comfortable, and uneventful gestation period for you and your growing baby, including seeing your doctor regularly for prenatal exams. Nevertheless, you could find yourself going into labor unexpectedly early.

A normal human pregnancy lasts about 280 days, which breaks down into 40 weeks or approximately nine months. Premature infants have a higher risk of early death and health problems. 

Even delivering a week early, at 39 weeks, puts your baby at risk for breathing problems, low blood sugar, and other conditions that might need neonatal intensive care. So, if you start feeling contractions and go into labor before your due date, you’re understandably concerned.

At Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville, our skilled and caring OB/GYNs, Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD, offer prenatal care so you have the best chance for a positive pregnancy and healthy delivery. If you experience early labor, we’re here to guide you to your next steps.


What should you do if you think you’re in labor early? Familiarize yourself with the following steps so you can get prepared.

Are you in early labor or premature labor?

The first thing to determine when you feel that initial contraction is how far along you are. If you’re at weeks 39-41, you’re in early labor and have plenty of time before you deliver. If you’re at 38 weeks or under, you’re at risk for premature delivery.

What to do if it is premature labor

You may be able to stop premature delivery even if you feel contractions before week 39. If you think you’re going into premature labor, take the following steps:

Contact us right away if you have more than six contractions per hour or if you experience any spotting or leak fluids from your vagina.

What to do if it is early labor

Even though you may be excited or even scared when you first feel contractions, you don’t have to rush to the hospital or even call us right away unless you’re under 39 weeks pregnant. Early labor is the longest stage of labor and can last up to 12 hours.

During early labor, you may have mild contractions that last from 60-90 seconds each and come every 5-15 minutes. You may also have some pink or red discharge. If you have heavy bleeding, call us right away.

Otherwise, try to relax. You’re in for a long haul. Use the breathing and relaxation techniques you’ve learned during prenatal classes. You may also relax yourself by:

You can also make sure you have your insurance card and any other paperwork, such as a Birth Plan or supplies you intend to take to the hospital, including a change of underwear or clothing. 

During early labor, you can manage your business without too much difficulty. As labor progresses, though, your body lets you know it’s time to get down to the business of delivery and nothing but delivery.

What to do when you are in active labor

If you’re in active labor and are between 39 and 41 weeks, now’s the time to call us. Signs that you’re in active labor include:

At this point, your cervix may dilate by about 10 centimeters. Round up your support team and head to the hospital. Once you’re at the hospital, try to change positions as much as you can at the hospital. You can even take a stroll through the hospital hallways. Stay hydrated, but don’t eat. Go to the bathroom and urinate; an empty bladder gives your baby’s head more room.

We’re here for you, whether your labor is premature, early, or on time. Make your pregnancy, labor, and delivery as smooth as possible by contacting our supportive team in Jacksonville, Florida, today. Call our friendly office staff or use our convenient appointment form online.

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