Depending on whether it's your first child or a second or third, the signs of labor are not always the same. Some signs are obvious and others you may only notice if you are very aware of your body. Every woman has a different story to tell of how she knew labor had kicked into gear. In order to be prepared, these 5 signs will give you the insight you need to know that your labor day is right around the corner.
1. Easy breathing. Lightening, which refers to a time in your pregnancy when your baby drops deeper into your pelvis, is another sign. Many women notice this change when breathing becomes easier and heartburn disappears. Make sure to continue eating smaller meals more frequently, just in case labors begins. A big meal before labor can cause nausea during contractions.
2. Bloody show. The loss of your mucous plug ("bloody show") is a sure indicator that labor is on the horizon. You may or may not notice this when it happens, as it can be all at once or slowly. Appearing as stringing mucous or discharge, this "plug" is what has prevented bacteria from crossing through the cervix to your uterus. Not everyone notices this sign, but if you do, labor can be minutes, hours or even days away.
3. Water breaking. While only 1 in 10 women experience the gush of a water breaking, also known as the rupture of membranes, it is a definite sign that labor should kick in soon. Sometimes your water breaks after contractions have begun, although it can be the trigger to start contractions. For some women, the only sign will be a slight trickle or leak. Sitting on a towel for about an hour will help you know whether it is amniotic fluid or urine. Call your doctor and note the Color (clear, pink or tinged with green), Odor (odorless is what is should be), Amount (gush vs. trickle), and Time (when did it happen).
4. Effacement and dilation. The thinning and opening of your cervix is something your doctor will be checking for during your last few appointments. You may notice some spotting as this starts to happen and that is normal. It is caused by the small blood vessels breaking as the cervix thins in preparation for labor and delivery. The time is getting closer as this process starts. Typically this is accompanied by the most tell-tale sign of labor…contractions.
5. Contractions. Contractions are a definite sign of labor. Women typically experience Braxton Hicks contractions during the months and weeks before delivery. These are slightly uncomfortable, unorganized contractions that stop after a period of time. "Real" contractions don't stop, they organize themselves into a pattern and they get more painful. Find out when your doctor wants you to head into the hospital (frequency of contractions). Sometimes it is more comfortable to do your early labor at home. Note when your contractions started, how intense they are, and the time between the start of one and the start of the next.
To learn more about Denton Regional's Childbirth Services at the Women's Center, visit us online. We offer a wonderful childbirth workshop to help you and your partner get ready for the big day. Visit our Schedule of Classes and Events to learn more. If you would like a physician referral, please call 1-855-477-DRMC.
Preparing for Childbirth