How do I time Contractions? By Midwife Ebony

What does a contraction feel like?

Many women experience period like cramping in their lower abdomen to start with, and tightening of the upper abdomen. Your uterus goes tight as the muscles contract to open your cervix and get you ready to birth your baby.They will start off in an irregular pattern. Some being mild in pain, others more intense. Timing will vary, 20minutes apart, 10 minutes, 5 minutes then maybe 20minutes apart again. This is normal, and can become tiring so rest as much as possible during this stage.


How often will I contract when I’m in established labour?

Women’s bodies vary so do their labours. However, generally when you are in established labour your contractions will be regular in time and be of the same intensity. They will last around 45-60seconds, and come every 3-5minutes.


How do I time contractions?

When timing contractions start timing from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next. So you will time from when you feel the contraction, during all of the contraction, then also the rest time between contractions, until your next one comes. This is when you stop the timing. The diagram below helps explain this.

contractions 2

start                        stop timing


What should I time my contraction on?

You can simply write your contraction times down on paper.

There are also phone apps many people find helpful.

Or you can count how many contractions come in a 10minute period and aim for 3-4 contractions in a 10minute period.


Let your midwife or hospital staff know once you feel your labour is establishing and they will be able to tell you when to come in and what do to. It’s ok to ring and let them know at anytime when you are contracting if you are ever unsure of what to do.