Do You Know the Major Labour Signs?

By the end of your third trimester, you will be eagerly looking for any specific signs of labour. Knowledge about these signs tells you if labor is imminent or has already begun. You would be able to prepare yourself in a better way with more information about these signs. You reach full term pregnancy when you enter 37th week of pregnancy. No more than 3% to 5% of babies come into this world on their estimated due date. About 40% of babies are born at least two weeks after the estimated date, whereas another 40% are born two weeks after. Therefore, it is hard to say when you are going to experience labor signs– or if you would experience any signs at all. Let's find out more about it.

Signs of Labour

Not every woman is going to experience these signs during delivery, but certain signs are relatively more common as compared to the others.

1. Your Baby Drops

It means that your baby moves down into your pelvis just before the start of labor. When this happens, you will feel lighter because your baby is now getting in a position to make an exit. You are likely to experience frequent urination after this point, which is mainly because the position of your baby will irritate your bladder. You may feel it easier to breathe though because your baby is no longer pushing against your lungs.

2. You Cervix Opens Up

It means that your cervix will dilate when you are close to labor. Your healthcare provider will check it during your weekly check-ups and confirm about dilation and effacement. It is important to know that everyone dilates at a different speed, so it does not mean there is something wrong if you have not dilated or are dilating slowly.

3. You Experience Cramps and Back Pain

While you are likely to experience cramps and back pain throughout your pregnancy, you may notice an increase in their intensity when you are close to labor. This happens because your body will start to prepare for birth, which will cause your joints and muscles to shift and stretch. This can cause some cramping and pain.

4. You have Loose Stools

In preparation for birth, the muscle in your body will stretch and relax. This applies to your uterus as well as your rectum. When this happens, it is common to have loose bowel movements. You may feel uncomfortable, but it is quite normal. Just be sure to increase your intake of fluids to stay hydrated.

5. Your Vaginal Discharge Changes

When you are about to get in labor, you are likely to notice a change in the color and consistency of your vaginal discharge. There may be an increase in this discharge – it may also be thicker than usual. Your mucus plug, the cork that seals off your uterus, may no longer be intact and come out of your vagina with some blood. When you notice this "bloody show", it usually means that labor is imminent.

6. Your Water Breaks

Breaking of water is considered one of the final signs of labour, but that is not always true. No more than 15% of women experience it, which is why you should not count on this sign only to confirm it is really time to visit your doctor.

Does Your Contraction Mean True Labor or False Labor?

It is never easy to know exactly when "true labor" begins; in fact, most women just do not know about it until the very last minute. It is also difficult because early labor contractions are usually mistaken as the Braxton Hicks contractions. However, some women notice those Braxton Hicks contractions becoming more painful with time. They are also likely to become more regular and hit you every 10-20 minutes.

If what you are experiencing is true labor, your contractions will get stronger with time, last longer and happen more regularly as well. To tell the difference, you should start timing your contractions. Labor contractions may be 10 minutes apart in the beginning, but they do not ease up no matter what you do and they will become closer together with time. You should call your doctor especially if you also notice any bloody show.

When to Call Your Doctor Before Labor

  • When you notice specific signs of labour, it is important to call your doctor and midwife. Even if you are uncertain, it is better to be on the safer side and talk to your doctor for guidance. If you are working with an experienced midwife or doctor, they can tell a lot about your condition just by the tenor and tone of your voice. So, do not hesitate to call them when you are not sure about anything.
  • Your healthcare provider may ask you to come to a birth center or hospital to confirm everything is fine. They may ask you to go home if they believe that you are still in early labor. Contact your doctor immediately if your water breaks, if you feel that your baby is not as active as usual, if you notice vaginal bleeding, or if you have other problems like severe headaches, fever, abdominal pain or changes in your vision.
  • Keep in mind that it is possible that your water breaks but you do not have any contractions. If it happens, your doctor will induce you because there is no amniotic sac's protection available for your baby and this increases risk of infections. They may also test you for the presence of group B streptococcus, and if you are infected, you will first have to take antibiotics before going any further. 

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