beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

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When to Call: In Labor

We understand that whether this is your first baby or your last, the right time to call about coming to the hospital may seem unclear. The following are guidelines to help you decide. In some cases, your doctor will give you more individualized instructions. 

Call if you experience the following symptoms:

What is normal?

  • Contractions that are irregular are normal at the end of pregnancy.
  • A mucousy or bloody show can occur up to several days before the onset of true labor.

What to do

  • There is nothing to do if either of these things occur.

If it's your first baby

  • Your water breaks or
  • Contractions are regular
    • Occurring every 5 minutes and
    • Lasting approximately 45 - 60 seconds for 1 hour
  • The contractions should be strong and require effort in coping. This means that you have difficulty reading or having a conversation or performing tasks because of the discomfort.

Before 24 Weeks

  • Bleeding
  • Ruptured membranes or leakage of fluid vaginally
  • Fever over 100°F that persists despite the use of Tylenol (Acetaminophen)
  • Abdominal pain that is severe or prolonged
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Feeling threatened or being harmed either physically or sexually

24 - 37 Weeks

  • Experiencing more than four contractions in a one hour period
  • A decrease in fetal movements from your baby's baseline, or less than 10 movements in 10 hours
  • Unusual, severe or prolonged headache
  • Changes in vision such as blurred or partial vision
  • Bleeding
  • Ruptured membranes or leakage of fluid vaginally
  • Fever over 100°F
  • Abdominal pain that is severe or prolonged
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Feeling threatened or being harmed either physically or sexually

After 37 Weeks

  • Heavy bleeding which soaks a pad (light bleeding or spotting is normal after vaginal exams)
  • Regular painful contractions at 5 minutes apart which is persist for an hour
  • Ruptured membranes or leakage of fluid vaginally
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • A decrease in fetal movements from your baby's baseline, or less than 10 movements in 10 hours
  • Fever over 100°F
  • Unusual, severe or prolonged headache
  • Changes in vision such as blurred or partial vision
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Feeling threatened or being harmed either physically or sexually

Contact Information

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
East Campus
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-0475