Early labor is when the cervix dilates to 3 centimeters. Going from undilated to 3 centimeters makes this whole subphase last anywhere between 8 to 12 hours. There’s no need to go to the hospital this early on. Even then, it would be helpful for you to conserve your energy and relax for the rest of your day.
In early labor, the common duration of contractions is 30 to 45 seconds each within 5- to 30-minute intervals. This is also where your “water breaks” or where your amniotic sac will rupture, causing fluid to flow out of you. If and when this happens, note the color, odor, and time it occurred.
Following early labor is the active labor phase which lasts about 3 to 5 hours. In this phase, the cervix dilates from 3 to 7 centimeters.
It’s at this point where you should make your way to a birth center or hospital, wherever you’ve initially planned to give birth. Here, contractions are stronger, longer, and much closer together.
This is a good time to start the breathing techniques to help you relax. Expect contractions to last 45 to 60 seconds with intervals of 3 to 5 minutes.