You are considered to be "in labor" if your contractions are strong enough to make a change in your cervix. Before you begin laboring your cervix will likely be long, thick, and closed. After many hours, if your contractions are strong enough your cervix will begin to thin out or "efface" and open up or "dilate". But how do most women know if their cervix is changing? Generally if your contractions are coming 5 to 7 minutes apart, are lasting 60 seconds in duration, AND have been in this pattern for at least 1 hour, then your cervix is likely to be changing and YOU ARE IN LABOR. This would be a great time to call your physician or midwife to inform them about your contraction pattern and how you and your baby are doing.