Hey there, mums-to-be! Are you wondering when labour will hit and how to tell if it’s the real deal? We’ve got your back with simple answers. Imagine it like getting ready for a big event. Each birth is different, but there are signs that say, “Baby’s on the way!” Let’s break it down and make understanding labour easy-peasy!
What is Labour?
Labour is the process of childbirth. It begins with contractions, which are tight muscles in the uterus, and the cervix, the opening of the uterus starts to open up. This allows the baby to move out of the uterus and be born.
As the due date approaches, there are physical signs that labour might be near, like regular contractions and changes in the cervix. Recognizing these signs helps parents prepare for the baby’s arrival.
Recognizing the Basic Signs of Labour!
Are you curious about when labour will start and what to look out for? Here are the clues that your little one is on the way:
1. Signs of Labour – Strong, Frequent Contractions:
Labour contractions are like your uterus flexing its muscles.
In true labour, contraction have following pattern:
- Frequency: They occur at regular intervals, about every 5 to 10 minutes.
- Duration: Each contraction lasts between 30 to 70 seconds.
- Intensity: They’re strong, gradually increasing in strength, and you can’t walk or talk through them.
- Progression: They become closer together as time passes.
When you experience contractions following these patterns, you’re likely in labour, and your little one is on the way!
2. Signs of Labour – Bloody Show:
In the days leading up to labour, you might experience the loss of your mucus plug, which seals off your uterus. This plug can come out all at once or in smaller pieces, or you might not notice it at all.
Additionally, as labour approaches, you might observe thicker and pinkish vaginal discharge, known as the “bloody show.” A pinkish or blood-tinged discharge indicates your cervix is changing for labour. These are natural signs that labour is on the way.
3. Signs of Labour – Belly and Lower Back Pain:
During early labour, you might experience sensations similar to strong menstrual cramps, stomach upset, or lower abdominal pressure. Some women also feel pain in their lower back that extends into their legs.
Unlike regular discomfort, these sensations persist and don’t go away when you change positions.Achy discomfort in your abdomen and back could mean your baby is getting ready.
4. Signs of Labour – Water Breaking:
Your baby has been surrounded by amniotic fluid, often referred to as the “bag of waters,” in your uterus. When the bag of water breaks, it’s a clear sign that your baby is wanting to come out.
Some women may experience a sudden rush of water, while others might feel just a trickle. Contrary to what movies depict, your water breaking in a dramatic way, like during a romantic dinner, is a rare occurrence.
In reality, for most women, the breaking of the amniotic sac and the leakage of amniotic fluid occur after other signs of labour have started.
Interestingly, for the majority of women, the water breaking is the final sign of labour. This natural event happens in only about 15 percent of births or even fewer.
But know that if your amniotic sac has ruptured, it’s time to head to the hospital.
Early Signs of Labour (Anytime from a Month to Hours Away):
Have you ever wondered when your little one will decide it’s time to make their grand entrance into the world? Well, there are some early signs your baby might be getting ready for the big debut! Let’s dive in and discover these exciting pre-labour symptoms.
1. Baby Drop:
During your first pregnancy, your baby might drop into your pelvis a few weeks before labour, usually around two to four weeks prior. Here, your baby is settling lower into your pelvis. This process, known as “lightning” or “Baby drop”, is when the baby descends into position for delivery, ideally with the head down and low, not in the breech position.
This can make you feel like you’re waddling even more than before, and you might still experience frequent urination due to the baby’s head pressing on your bladder.
For subsequent pregnancies, lightning typically occurs when you’re in labour. During this time, your baby is positioning itself for birth. The head moves down, and your baby gets ready to make its exit. This shift can provide some relief as your baby moves away from your lungs, giving you more breathing room.
2. Cervix Dilates:
In the days or weeks leading up to delivery, your cervix dilate (open) and thin out simultaneously. This happens because your cervix is preparing for delivery.
Your healthcare provider might measure and track these changes during your regular check-ups, although it varies for everyone. Don’t worry if you’re dilating slowly or not at all yet; it’s different for every woman.
3. Cramps and Increased Back Pain:
As labour approaches, you might experience cramping and lower back pain, especially if this isn’t your first pregnancy. These sensations occur as your muscles and joints stretch and shift in preparation for birth.
4. Loose-feeling Joints:
The hormone relaxin, present throughout your pregnancy, causes your ligaments to loosen, including those in your pelvis. Before labour, you may notice your joints feeling more relaxed. It’s your body’s way of preparing for your baby’s passage into the world.
In anticipation of labour, muscles in your body, including those in the rectum, relax. This can lead to pre labour diarrhoea, which, although bothersome, is completely normal. Stay hydrated, and remember, it’s a positive sign indicating your body is getting ready. Only some women experience loose stools as a pre-labour symptom.
6. Weight Gain Stops:
Towards the end of pregnancy, weight gain often levels off or even decreases slightly. This is normal and doesn’t affect your baby’s birth weight. Factors like lower levels of amniotic fluid, increased bathroom breaks, and heightened activity contribute to this change.
7. Fatigue and Nesting Instinct:
Fatigue might hit you hard in the final days and weeks of pregnancy. The large belly, compressed bladder, and organs can disrupt your sleep.
Alternatively, some women experience a burst of energy known as the nesting instinct. This urge to clean and organise everything is common, but remember not to overexert yourself.You might feel both tired and yet, unusually motivated to prepare your home for the baby’s arrival.
Signs of Labour – What to do when you Might Be Going into Labor?
If you’re uncertain whether you’re in labour, focus on certain signs. Your healthcare provider has likely given you guidelines, such as calling when contractions are consistently about five minutes apart for at least an hour.
While not all contractions will be evenly spaced, if they become more regular, painful, and longer (typically around 30 to 70 seconds each), it’s time to contact your doctor.
Signs of Labour – When to Call Your Doctor or Midwife:
If you suspect you’re in labour but are unsure, don’t hesitate to call your healthcare provider. They can explain the situation and ask you to come in if there’s any uncertainty. Don’t worry about calling outside of office hours; healthcare practitioners understand it’s part of their job to be available for such situations.
Always Call Your Doctor or Midwife If:
Bleeding or Bright Red Discharge:
Contact your healthcare provider if you experience any bleeding or bright red discharge (not brown or pinkish).
Water Breaks, Especially If It Looks Unusual:
If your water breaks but the fluid looks green or brown, it could indicate the presence of meconium, your baby’s first stool. This situation requires immediate attention to ensure the safety of your baby.
Symptoms of Preeclampsia:
Call your doctor or midwife if you experience blurred or double vision, a severe headache, or sudden swelling. These symptoms could indicate preeclampsia, a condition characterised by pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, which requires medical attention.
What is Preterm Labor?
Preterm labour occurs when labour starts before the 37th week of pregnancy, affecting about 10% of pregnancies. If you experience labour symptoms before reaching 37 weeks, it’s crucial to contact your healthcare provider promptly.
Can You Be in Labor Without Knowing?
Every labour experience is unique, but most women will recognize labour through contractions. If you’re uncertain, it’s wise to consult your healthcare provider. They can assess your condition and provide professional guidance.
Natural Ways to Help Labor Progress:
If you’re full-term and eager to kickstart labour naturally, there are a few methods you can try at home, such as walking, engaging in sexual activity, consuming spicy food, or considering acupuncture.
While these methods exist, there’s limited scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness. Always consult your doctor before attempting any method to induce labour.
Enjoy the Final Days of your Pregnancy!
As you approach the end of your pregnancy, remember that your baby will signal when it’s time to meet you. While it’s natural to be anxious, try to enjoy these last calm moments before becoming a parent. And always consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns or questions.
This article is general in nature and is not meant as advice, always consult your doctor or widwife. If you are in a medical emergency, call emergency services.