Time them from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next. Real contractions will last no more than about 1 minute (from beginning to end of one). They can be far apart (even an hour) in the beginning, but they will eventually get regular and closer together. The general rule for heading to the hospital is 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each, for 1 hour.
at 2:22 PM on Apr. 21, 2009