While most women are excited to be having a baby, some may feel apprehensive about the birth. Being prepared and knowing the signs of labor are a great way to know what to watch for and prepare. Pregnancy is a bumpy ride indeed. Whether it’s your first time or even if you have been through it before you may have a plethora of different experiences during the time you are pregnant.
It is important to know that signs of labor, like the rest of the period of pregnancy is an individual and unique experience and can differ for each woman. While the following symptoms are the usual signs experienced, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t fit yours. The important thing is to have a close relationship with your doctor and report anything abnormal, especially any vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain.
Common signs of labor
- Breathing more easily
This is the sign that your baby has dropped down and is settling into the pelvis releasing pressure from your diaphragm. On the flip side, you might feel increased pressure on your bladder and you might find yourself running to the bathroom.
- Discharge of viscous mucus
During pregnancy, the cervical opening is plugged by mucus to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus. When your cervix begins to relax, this mucus plug is expelled. Many women believe that the plug will be solid. In fact, it is in the form of a thick discharge of viscous mucus. It is either clear in color, pink or tinged with blood. The mucus plug can be expelled minutes, hours or days before labor begins.
- Water breaking
Just 1 in 10 women experience a gush of amniotic fluid when the membranes rupture. Most often, the amniotic fluid will just leak in the form of small trickle. However, many women are unsure whether it is amniotic fluid or urine because many pregnant women leak urine during the later stages of pregnancy. If your water breaks and you don’t have contractions, you should go to the hospital. As time passes the risk for infection can grow, and your doctor will want to limit this way ahead of time. A doctor may want to induce your labor in as little as six hours, although anywhere from 6 to 24 hours is typical.
- Sudden spurt of energy
Just before you go into labor, you may have a sudden spurt of energy. You will realize that you can do things like cleaning, buying groceries or cooking without feeling tired. This is called nesting. While you may have the urge to run around, you are about to go into a particularly stressful time so probably best if you conserve your energy.
- Effacement of cervix
Effacement of the cervix starts in the last month of pregnancy. Your cervix will become thin and it will start to stretch to make it easy for the cervix to dilate when you deliver your baby. Your doctor will start checking for effacement in the last 2 months of pregnancy and he or she will tell about the progress.
- Dilation of the cervix opening
Means your body is preparing for labor. Dilation is usually measured in centimeters and at times during internal examination, the doctor might measure it in fingers. If you are fully dilated, your dilation measures 10 centimeters and you are ready to give birth. Doctors start checking for dilation in the last 2 months of pregnancy and will keep you informed about this.
The difference between false and real contractions is their strength, intensity and whether they continue when you move about. Many women experience false labor before true labor starts. So how to know which is which? The best way is to take note of your contractions. False labor consists of contractions can be painful and may come every 10 or 20 minutes. With false labor, your cervix will not have started to dilate yet. Your mid-wife or doctor will be able to tell by carrying out an examination.
Pregnancy is a crucial time, and it is important to adhere to a good diet and take good care of yourself. If you are in the best possible health, you will more likely to have a complication free pregnancy and lower your chance of premature labor.