As your due date draws closer, your body will go through a variety of changes. Although there is no way of knowing for sure when you will go into labor, many women experience similar signs that lets them know labor is close. Knowing the typical signs of labor will help you decide when to call your doctor or go to the hospital. Most women do have several false alarms before the real thing occurs. Doctors are used to getting calls from pregnant women who think they are in labor.
Signs of Labor video
Provided by the www Health Channel on eMedTV.com One of the first signs of labor is the baby moving down into the pelvis. Most women will experience a feeling or pressure as the baby moves down. This process is called lightening and usually occurs weeks or days before labor in first time pregnancies. The majority or subsequent pregnancies do not experience this sensation. While some women will notice the difference as lightening occurs, others will not. You may be able to breathe easier as your lungs now have more room to expand, but you will also likely experience an increased urge to urinate.
During the later stage of your pregnancy, your healthcare provider will check your cervix for effacement and dilation. The changes in your cervix will allow your caregiver to note how labor is progressing. Your cervix will prepare itself for labor by softening and thinning, otherwise known as effacement. Effacement is talked about in terms of percentages and when you are 100% effaced, your cervix is completely softened and thinned. To allow the baby to come through the birth canal, your cervix must open or dilate. Your cervix will be measured from 0 to 10 and once at 10, you are considered fully dilated and ready to for a vaginal delivery.
There is a mucus plug that blocks the cervix to prevent bacteria from entering during pregnancy. When the cervix begins to efface and dilate, the plug is usually expelled. This is known as bloody show or the loss of the mucus plug. The mucus plug may come out all at once or in pieces and usually is brown or blood tinged. Once you lose your mucus plug, labor could be days away or weeks away.
Many women experience a "nesting" sensation as labor nears. You may get a sudden urge to clean and organize. This sudden spurt of energy can begin several weeks before your due date, but you will likely notice it is stronger just before delivery. While it is okay to clean and organize, you should be careful to save some energy for your upcoming delivery.
During pregnancy, your baby floats in amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac. Often times before labor begins, the sac will break or leak. You will feel a warm trickle or gush of fluid once this occurs. Not all women will experience this as some have to have their water broken artificially. If you think that your water has broken, you should see your doctor or midwife immediately. Once your water has broken, most caregivers like to deliver the baby within 24 hours to reduce the risk of infection.
As your due date nears, Braxton Hicks contactions will turn into real contractions. Real contractions are usually felt in the abdomen and lower back. Braxton Hicks contractions are usually felt in the lower abdomen and not in the back. Contractions will become stronger, regular and more painful. When you are timing your contractions, time them from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next. You should see a regular pattern with contractions that are getting closer together and stronger in intensity. False labor contractions will not be regular. Measure your contraction by timing from the begninning to end of one. A real contraction will generally last longer than 30 seconds early on in labor and between 60-75 seconds as labor progresses. False labor contractions will vary greatly in length and intesity. During a real contraction, you can not stop it and activity usually makes them grow stronger. A Braxton Hicks contraction will usually stop if you begin walking, drinking, or change your position.
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