Signs of active labor are... Contractions that get longer, stronger and closer together. Contractions that have an average length of around 60 seconds. Contractions that are around 3-5 minutes apart. In early labor maybe they were more like 5-7 (or greater) minutes apart. Contractions that are timeable and predictable, whereas in early labor maybe they were every 5, then 7, then 4, then 10 minutes apart.