Pregnancy Signs of Labor

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?

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Every mother has their own pregnancy and labor story that they can share. This just demonstrates how every woman is different and will experience different things while she is giving birth. However, there are some items that are pretty general, that you can use to determine if you are going into labor or not.

1. The baby drops

You will know that your baby has dropped if you begin feeling as though it is easier to breathe once again. This may help relieve some of the pressure on your diaphragm, but the pressure will quickly be moved downward. You may begin feeling pressure on your bladder instead, which means you will be needing to make more trips to the bathroom from here on out.

baby-dropping

2. Mucus Plug Loss

When a woman is pregnant, a thick plug of mucus protects the uterus from bacteria that may enter. However, as the cervix begins to relax and thin, the plug will be expelled. It will appear like a stringy discharge or mucus and can be multiple colors from clear to pink to red. It usually is discharged anywhere from a few hours to a few days prior to labor beginning.

mucus-plug-protects-the-baby-from-bacteria

3. Water Breaks

While this is a common thought when we think of a woman going into labor, it actually only occurs in about 1 out of 10 pregnant women. Most often, this occurs while the woman is at home, most likely when she is in bed.

If it does leak or break before labor, you may also find that you are leaking urine as well because your uterus is resting on top of your bladder. It can even be difficult to distinguish between urine and amniotic fluid. It is also possible that the amniotic fluid is odorless and can be a sudden gush of fluid or more of a constant trickle.

rupture-of-membranes

If you do notice that you are leaking fluid, you should determine if it smells like urine and, if not, contact your doctor. It is important that you do not use tampons or have intercourse before you see your doctor when you are leaking fluid and you should let your doctor know if there is an odor associated with it because that could be a sign of an infection.

4. Nesting

Many women notice this just before they go into labor. Nesting is due to an increase of energy that differs from the fatigue that most women have felt the rest of their pregnancy. This can motivate women to clean the house or do other chores that they have been putting off since becoming pregnant.

nesting-motivates-women-to-clean-the-house-when-its-meant-for-labor

5. Dilation

Dilation refers to the opening of the cervix while it is preparing for the childbirth process. It is measured in centimeters and is considered full when a woman has reached 10 centimeters. This means that she is ready to give birth. This is measured by doing a physical pelvic exam prior to delivery.

sign-of-labor-dilation

6. Contractions

While it is possible to have contractions and not be in labor, constant contractions are a sure sign that you are going into labor. They may feel like normal menstrual cramps that grow with intensity as time progresses.

During the first part of the labor process, they may be 20 to 30 minutes apart, but as the time grows closer, will begin to become more frequent and painful. When your contractions become five minutes apart, you will need to contact your doctor.

contractions

Here are some characteristics of contractions:

  • They’re regular
  • Have a predictable pattern
  • Become closer together as time progresses
  • Last longer as they continue
  • Starts in lower back and radiates to the front or vice versus
  • Changes in position do not affect them
  • Mucus discharge may occur
  • Water may break
  • Changes to the cervix, such as dilation

7. Conclusion

While most women instantly recognize the signs of labor, it is also possible to experience false labor as well. This is when there are signs of labor, but it is not yet time for the woman to deliver. It is important that if you are having labor signs that you contact your doctor for guidance.

Most doctor’s will provide you with specific information regarding what you should do if you do happen to start having signs that you are going into labor. It is important that you follow these instructions carefully.

Ms. Ledoux began her career as an ObGyn nurse practitioner prior to becoming a practicing midwife in the Santa Cruz community. Working together with ObGyn physicians in her own practice, she has over 20 years experience in women's health, pregnancy and childbirth.