When Should I Go To The Hospital?

Everyone’s heard of 911 but what is 511? Well, it is a way to explain when you are in active labor and should probably go to the hospital.  Specifically, it is referring to your contractions.  If you are having contractions that are 5 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute, for at least 1 hour, you may want to get your bag and a ride to the hospital.  

At some point when you’re feeling contractions consistently, you will want to begin timing them.  This can be done with a stop watch with a second hand or by using an app specifically designed to time contractions.  Now, here’s the trick that confuses most people.  Do you measure the time after one contraction ends to the time the next one begins? Actually no, the time between contractions is measured from the time one begins to the time the next one begins.  In early labor, you may start with contractions 10 minutes apart and then slowly they start getting closer together.  So, you’re looking for the contractions to be about 5 minutes apart.  

Next, you’ll want to time how long the contractions last.  This can be done by noting the time they begin until the time they end.  You’re going to look for them to be consistently about 1 minute in length.  


And finally, if your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, you will want to pay attention to how long this pattern has been going on.  Through out early labor, you may have a few contractions that are 5 minutes apart lasting 1 minute, but that may only last 20 minutes.  You’ll want to see this pattern for an hour before loading up the car.  This would be a good time to call your doula.  Also, if you are able to still chat and joke around, you may not be in active labor yet.  Active labor usually requires a lot of focus during contractions, because the contractions are more intense.  

If you are ever in doubt of what to do, call your doula, who may help you to determine if the time is now.  If anything feels off or you see any blood, let your doctor know.  The 511 rule is an estimate and we know every birth is different, so call your doctor if you have any concerns.  Happy laboring my friends! 

Sarah Quiggle