After months of carrying your baby, it is almost time for the arrival of your new family member! It can be important to know the signs of labor as no one can accurately predict when labor will begin for you. The due date is an estimation and some women can go into labor as early as several weeks before the due date while some lasts longer than the estimated 40 weeks. H
8 Signs You Are About To Go Into Labor
This occurs when you notice that you belly looks lower and that you find it easier to breathe as the pregnancy is no longer pushing and crowding your abdominal cavity which pushes up against your lungs. This means that the baby’s head has dropped down into the pelvis to prepare for delivery. There may be increased feeling of urinating as the baby is now pressing against the bladder. Lightening occurs as early as several weeks to several hours before labor starts.
This is a term that is used to describe bleeding near the end of your pregnancy. It can have several shades such as brown, pink, or bright red. It happens spontaneously on its own. At this stage, your cervix has started to efface and dilate. The bloody show is the passing of the mucus plug which has sealed off the cervical canal throughout your pregnancy. It may come out looking like a lump or an increased amount of discharge from the vagina for several days. Here is a more detailed read and diagram about bloody show.
Diarrhea may occur within 48 hours of labor. You can think of it as nature’s way of cleansing the lower bowels to prepare for birth. There may also be flu-like symptoms such as indigestion, nausea, and vomiting before the start of labor.
This can be described as a sudden burst of energy about 24 to 48 hours before labor. Pregnant women may feel a strong urge to clean and prepare for the arrival of the baby. Remember not to exert yourself by carrying heavy objects and don’t try to climb any ladders. Avoid using chemicals such as bleach. Ensure that you have good air ventilation if others are using it. Get adequate rest and save some of the energy for delivery!
There may be some loss of weight due to the fluid loss that occur as a result of shifting hormone levels. There may be about 1 to 3 pounds weight loss.
As labor nears, irregular contractions can happen. These are “practice” contractions where the uterus gets ready for labor. It also promotes effacement and dilation of the cervix. The pain of these contractions is not usually too great, but many women can confuse it with labor. Braxton-Hicks contractions are also referred as false labor. Here is a video about Braxton-Hicks Contractions.
If you notice that there is fluid leaking from your vagina, it means that your water has broken. It describes the rupturing of the membranes of the amniotic sac that surround the baby. It can occur several hours before labor or during labor itself. Most women usually start labor within 24 hours after their membranes rupture. If labor does not start within 24 hours after the rupture of membranes, induction of labor may be necessary to prevent complications and infections.
This describes pain in the back unlike the back ache that you have been having for the past few months. Back labor refers to back pain that is extremely harsh. It occurs in about 33% of pregnant women. In normal cases, a baby descends down the birth canal with his or her face pressing against the mother’s spine. In women with back labor, the baby descends with his or her skull hitting against the mother’s spine causing pain that is concentrated in the back. If you are experiencing excruciating back ache, it is a sign of labor.
What Happens to The Body During Labor?
There are three stages of labor that your body will go through:
In stage 1, labor is divided into three stages: latent, active, and transition.
- Latent: The longest and least intense phase, contractions increase to help dilate the cervix.
- Active: The cervix dilates more rapidly. Contractions are painful and the urge to push may be present. (Wait until the cervix is completely open).
- Transition: There is full dilation (10 centimeters) with strong, regular, and intense contractions.
This stage starts once the cervix is fully dilated. The doctor will ask you to push along with the contractions. Both these efforts will propel the baby out. Once delivery is complete, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut.
Stage 3 involves the delivery of the placenta that functioned to nourish your baby when he or she was inside the womb.
If this is your first pregnancy, your labor and delivery may last longer. The process is generally shorter for the other pregnancies.
For a more detailed account of stages of labor, click here! This site includes a video as well.
Common Times of Day for Labor
The commonest times for women to go into labor are usually at night as the surge of the hormone melatonin plays an important role in labor. Melatonin interacts with oxytocin to promote contractions that are coordinated and forceful enough for delivery. Since it primarily functions to encourage sleep, it makes sense that it peaks during the night. Besides promoting contractions, it also helps the uterine muscles to be more effective at the last stages of birth. The antenatal classes also usually advise women to give birth in the dark and to stay away from artificial light (that emits blue light). There is a detailed study about how melatonin works which is worth a read if you want to learn more about the topic.
Common Times of Day for A Newborn’s Arrival
Since labor most commonly occurs at night, it makes sense that most babies arrive just in time for breakfast! In the United States, it was found that the majority of births were between 8 in the morning to 12 noon. This data is important as it helps to plan the staffing on delivery floors and neonatal intensive care units (NICU) to ensure that there is enough assistance if needed.