What's in This Guide?
- 1 Chronological Classification
- 2 Pre-Labor
- 3 Early Labor
- 4 During Labor
- 5 Post-Labor
- 6 The 10 Signs of Labor
- 7 How Do I Cope With Labor Signs?
- 8 Non-Clinical But Useful Labor Inducing Methods
- 9 When Labor Starts…
- 10 Conclusion
Pregnancy is one of life’s most transforming experiences. Many conflicting emotions fused into one – excitement, anxiety, fear, despair, and so much more. You will be okay. It isn’t rocket science that you can read about it, and you will be ready for it. The body needs to get used to it because of the varying manners of change. Early labor signs are a call to action and precaution. Expectant mothers, especially first-timers, need to grasp what is coming to enable them to get a soft landing.
It is not enough to just know. More importantly, you should know in what order you should expect to experience these changes. The entire labor process has four parts- Pre-labor, Early labor, During labor, and Post labor.
This phase is before labor, and it includes everything your body is having you do in readiness for labor. At this point, you could feel:
- The baby is moving deeper down the belly, like wanting to drop.
- Constant tightening of the stomach.
- Body desiring physical activities.
Now, it’s just a few more days to go. How will you know? Your body and your baby will notify you with more patent signs. In this second phase, you might experience:
- Pink discharge or even blood.
- Milder bowel movements.
- Increasing backache.
- Difficulty sleeping, feeling jumpy or unsettled.
- More recurring contractions.
The real action time is here, and your precious baby is coming! Some signs of labor are:
- Contractions are coming on longer and closer, more intensely and more persistent. Even if you should take a shower or attempt to move around, they do not leave.
- Having a hard time talking or walking.
- The cervix opens and thins out.
By now, you should be in the care of a midwife or doctor, rendering you any help you may need before birth.
- Your water will burst, gushing or trickling.
- You will find it difficult to walk or talk at this point.
- Contractions may occur every 20 minutes or less.
The 10 Signs of Labor
1. Baby Drops
About two weeks or a month to delivery, you start to have a baby’s sensation or instinct dropping. The truth is the baby is getting into birth position, dropping headfirst, and further down into the pelvic area. Countless visits to the bathroom characterize this period due to the baby’s head pressing against the bladder.
2. Cervical Dilation
In the few weeks leading to your delivery, the cervix begins to open and thin out. Your health caregiver will monitor dilation by conducting an internal examination. The rate at which the cervix dilates differs from person-to-person. There’s no standard or “correct” reading. The female cervix is usually about 1.5 inches long before labor. However, during full dilation, it can measure about 4 inches long as a result of contractions. When you undergo contraction, the cervix opens, it thins out and stretches around your baby’s head.
3. Back Pain and Cramps
Your joints and muscles in readiness for delivery extends and shifts. Symptoms include cramping in your lower back and groin. The doctor can’t really do much for you to ease the pain. The discomfort is usually short-lived. Pending the time they last, just seek solace in the thought of your bundle of joy that will arrive soon.
4. Joints Relax
There’s a positive amid all these negatives. Your joints, as well as other parts of your body, loosen up, even the pelvis, to ease the passageway for the baby. The relaxin hormone helps the whole body to relax.
5. Diarrhea …Uh…Oops!
Diarrhea starts when muscles in your rectum loosen up to prepare you for delivery. Diarrhea in pregnancy is caused by the release of a certain hormone, Prostaglandin. At this point, a day or two before labor, it is advised to remain hydrated and not be too far from the bathroom. You need to efficiently blank out your bowels so your uterus can contract well.
6. You Stop Gaining More Weight
As you get closer to D-Day, one sign to watch out for is observing your body settling, or you might even lose weight. The theory is: As your baby increases in size, the more you lose amniotic fluids. More so, your body’s level of activities increases (bathroom breaks) contributes to weight loss. Except the weight loss becomes drastic, it’s nothing to fret over.
Although some mothers feel overly exhausted during pre-labor yet, some have this unfaltering craving and a gush of energy to get the surrounding ready (nesting) for the baby. If you feel tired or spent as labor approaches, it’s good to listen to your body and rest. And if you’re charged-up, don’t go to the extreme. Take things easy and preserve that energy. You’ll need it in the coming days.
To ensure your baby feels warm and at ease when it finally arrives, these are some essentials to get ready, from breast pumps and formula to baby monitors and baby gates to cribs and car seats. The new arrival deserves the best start!
8. Signs of Blood
The moment you navigate labor, the cervix begins dilating and softening in readiness for the baby, making the gate guard (mucus) dislodge. Before now, the mucus has been protecting the cervix, closing off the uterus. The mucus plug is pinkish because of the slight blood it contains as the cervix dilates, tiny blood vessels open and tinge the mucus. It then gets dispelled as a blob or runny smear.
There are real contractions, and there are the other ones; they only raise false alarms. If you closely check your body, you can tell the difference. Sometimes, the muscles around your uterus tighten in readiness for labor. These practice contractions (false) are referred to as Braxton-Hicks contractions.
Differences between real and false contractions:
- Actual contractions get more intense if you try to be active or engage in any activity. At the same time, Braxton-Hicks contractions stop once you move.
- Moving or changing positions does not drive real contractions away.
- While contractions become stronger as the day’s progress, Braxton-Hicks contractions never really develop into anything.
Expectant mothers are advised to record the contractions regarding how frequently they come and how long they last. Walking around can help too to determine how each contraction responds to movement. The stats will help you to know when to ignore or seek help.
10. Water Breaks
This is one of the final signs. Contrary to general opinion, only fifteen percent of women start labor with water breaking. The breaking of the amniotic fluid (bag of water) may be a gushing of a dam or a trickling of a tap. The amniotic fluid may be bloody when it’s first appearing; otherwise, it is colorless and odorless.
Between water breaking and labor shouldn’t exceed 12 to 24 hours. As soon as this happens, your doctor should be informed to ensure a smooth delivery.
How Do I Cope With Labor Signs?
You will need guidelines from your nurse, midwife, or doctor to work through the entire process. Call them for instructions, especially if you feel anything outside the norm.
Non-Clinical But Useful Labor Inducing Methods
Overtime, Sex, spicy food ingestion, and acupuncture have been used to quicken labor. More than half of the women attempt to induce labor in the last week using all kinds of non-prescribed methods. About half of these women induced labor by sexually stimulating themselves. Some of them prefer to eat spicy food. It really can’t be ascertained whether these methods work, but they are risk-free anyway.
When Labor Starts…
You are close now. Delivery is about to happen in a bit. You can alleviate the strain and stress of this moment by:
- Moving around. Walking helps.
- Drink a lot of fluids
- If you don’t feel nauseous, the snack is welcome.
- Acetaminophen is a good drug but is subject to confirmation from your doctor.
- A warm bath relaxes the muscles and hydrates your entire body.
- Do your breathing exercises to relax you. You could ask your birth partner to join you. A smooth backrub, too, is not a bad idea.
As you anticipate the birth of your bundle of joy, you now know what to expect, the normal and abnormal. The time to expect, what to expect, and what not to do. You are perfectly poised on your journey to being a super mom! This is one guide you should always have with you as you transit to motherhood.
The labor routine is exacting. But now, it wouldn’t be that difficult thanks to this guide, and you are now more knowledgeable. All of the signs discussed here are normal, but you should keep your health handlers abreast of everything going on with you. You know what to do. Eat right, don’t stress, take hot showers, take naps, do movies, and everything else that gives you comfort.