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Signs of Labor

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

Labor or childbirth is the process of your baby leaving the uterus (your womb). You’re in labor when you have regular contractions that cause your cervix to change. Contractions are when the muscles of your uterus get tight and then relax. Contractions help push your baby out of your uterus. Your cervix is the opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina. When labor starts, your cervix dilates (opens up).

Probably every woman who shares her labor experience tells a different story. Your delivery will be just as unique. However, the following information will prepare you for the signs of labor.

Pre-term labor

Preterm labor occurs when regular contractions result in the opening of your cervix after week 20 and before week 37 of pregnancy.

Preterm labor can result in premature birth. The earlier the premature birth happens, the greater the health risks for your baby. Many premature babies (preemies) need special care in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The specific cause of preterm labor often isn't clear. Certain risk factors might increase the chance of preterm labor, but preterm labor can also occur in pregnant women with no known risk factors.

Signs of labor
Signs of labor

The signs you need to look out for -

  • Regular or frequent sensations of abdominal tightening (contractions).

  • Backache, which usually will be in your lower back. This may be constant or come and go, but it won’t ease even if you change positions or do something else for comfort.

  • A sensation of pelvic or lower abdominal pressure

  • Mild abdominal cramps

  • Vaginal spotting or light bleeding

  • Preterm rupture of membranes. Like a gush or a continuous trickle of fluid after the membrane around the baby breaks or tears.

  • A change in the type of vaginal discharge like watery, mucus-like, or bloody.

  • Increased pressure in your pelvis or vagina

  • Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Call your doctor even about mild cases. You must see your doctor if you can’t tolerate liquids for more than 8 hours.

  • Baby’s movements slowing down or stopping

Note: if you experience any of the above symptoms, you have to immediately contact your doctor. Do not wait and try any home remedies, the first thing you should do is to rule out any complications for you and the baby.

Do not panic, these points help you to be aware of any changes you feel during pregnancy. It is good to be aware of your body, and the changes involved with the body. In the olden days, there was a possibility to witness labor in close proximity, which is difficult these days unless you are a birth doula or a midwife.

You need to talk and share your thoughts aloud to your partner or your close friend about how you feel, and any changes you observe during pregnancy. It helps you get the support you need.

It is good if you do not have preterm labor! Now you can prepare yourself for the actual labor that can occur anytime during the last weeks of your third trimester or nearing your due date.

Some mommies go beyond the due date, it is said that the baby decides the time to come out in the world. You will know when the baby knows. It is like you are prepared when the baby is ready.

These days, most of the time health care providers do not wait long enough until the baby is ready. The mother is induced labor so the labor starts by external induction, it is like forcing the baby to come out. And if there are any complications as per your doctor, then the C-section is performed.

Most of the time, women are not aware of the birthing process and are not given a chance to make an informed decision. So, it is your responsibility to understand the birthing process and understand the natural instincts of your body. Medications tend to disturb the natural process and there is not much control over the body. If you have the right knowledge, then you will be able to guide yourself better.

And here are some signs that you have to look out for when you are nearing your full-term labor.

  • Your baby drops or moves lower into your pelvis. This is called lightning. It means that your baby is getting ready to move into position for birth. It can happen a few weeks or even just a few hours before your labor begins. You can actually breathe a lot easier than before, now that your baby has dropped and you have some space in your diaphragm region.

  • You have an increase in vaginal discharge that’s clear, pink, or slightly bloody. This is called show or bloody show. It can happen a few days before or at the beginning of labor.

  • Dilation. At a prenatal checkup, your health care provider tells you that your cervix has begun to thin and dilate (means open). When it’s fully dilated (open) for labor, it’s 10 centimeters. Once labor starts, contractions help open your cervix.

  • You have the nesting instinct. A sudden burst of energy surges from within. This is when you want to get things organized in your home to get ready for your baby. You may want to do things like cook meals or get the baby’s clothes and room ready. Doing these things is fine as long as you’re careful not to overdo it. You need your energy for labor and birth.

  • Rupture of membranes. Your water breaks! This event usually happens at home, often when you are in bed. Sometimes the amniotic sac breaks or leaks prior to labor, and because your uterus is resting directly on top of your bladder, it can cause you to leak urine. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish urine from amniotic fluid. Check if the fluid smells like urine.

  • Consistent Contractions. When you begin to experience regular uterine contractions, it is the strongest indication that you are in labor. When this happens, it is a good time to get out your notebook and record the exact time each contraction begins and how long they last. These contractions can feel like menstrual cramps or like a lower backache that comes and goes.

What to do when you are in labor?

  • Yay!!! You will be soon meeting your baby! And that moment of holding the baby, words fall short of describing the experience. Prepare yourself to soak in every moment.

  • Calm down. Take your hospital bag.

  • All you have to do is be conscious of your body and absorb every moment. This experience is unique to every pregnancy. Do not miss it!

  • You have done awesome so far, and you will be an awesome mother!

  • Fear not, go with the flow, and have an open mind.

All the best to you from the New Mother team ❤️


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