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Let's Talk Babies!

early signs of labor

In those late weeks of pregnancy with all the aches and pains that go along with carrying a full term baby, the anticipation of finally getting to meet this little person you have been cradling inside for 9 months now, and the anxiety that comes along with not knowing what to expect from your labor and delivery can make the wait for your child’s birth day seem endless. Every little ache, every little twitch, every little pain that wasn’t there before makes you wonder if it is finally time, if your little one is about to make their appearance. We all spend those final weeks trying to patiently wait for those first early signs of labor.

The home stretch can seem endless, the wait unbearable, but don’t worry your baby will make their appearance eventually. You can’t rush nature, that baby will come when they are ready. As the final weeks and days of your pregnancy draw to a close there are a few early signs of labor that you can look for that can indicate your body is in the final stages of preparing for labor. Our bodies go through a lot during pregnancy and those finally weeks and days are no exception. Here are 5 signs that your body is getting ready for labor.

  • The Braxton Hicks contractions that you have likely been experiencing for several months now will change. In the final days of your pregnancy you will likely notice an increase in both the frequency and the intensity of these contractions. Braxton Hicks are your body’s way of practicing for the real thing.
  • You will likely lose your mucous plug. This can happy several weeks before your labor begins or only a day or so. Your body will start to expel the mucous plug when your cervix begins to change. Some women walk around for weeks at 1-2cms dilated.
  • The baby “drops”. This is the term used when the baby moves further into the birth canal in preparation for the impending delivery. Sometimes this “drop” is obvious and you can see that you are carrying the baby lower than previously in your pregnancy. Sometimes the only thing you notice is increased pain and pressure in your pelvis.
  • An increase in the pain and pressure in your pelvis and hips. During the final weeks and days of your pregnancy your pelvic region will begin to prepare for the delivery and this often makes you even more uncomfortable than before. Your hips and pelvis will begin to move and separate which results in increased pain and pressure.
  • You may notice some digestive upset. Many women in the final days before labor experience vomiting, diarrhea and upset stomach.  There are several cause for this digestive upset including changing hormones and added pressure on your stomach and intestines from the growing baby.
There is no way to know for sure when labor is going to begin. You may have all of the early signs of labor listed above and yet still not go into labor for several weeks, or even need to be induced. Our bodies are unpredictable. It would be nice if we could know for sure when the show was going to get started and prepare as best we can for it, but really that would kind of take away some of the fun.
The best thing you can do as you try to be patient and wait for the arrival of your bundle of joy is to rest, eat a balanced, healthy diet, get plenty of fluids and get some light exercise. Although it may feel like that baby is never going to arrive they will be here before you know it.

 

 

As you approach the end of your pregnancy you’ll probably begin feeling a bit anxious about getting the “show on the road”. By the time the eighth month of your pregnancy rolls around you may feel like you’ve been pregnant your whole life. Waiting for the “big day” can be hard. You’re ready to meet this little person you’ve been carrying around inside of you for almost nine months, and you’re probably more than a little sick of being pregnant.

Late pregnancy can be difficult and uncomfortable for a lot of women. The baby is taking up a lot of space in there and weighing pretty heavy on those poor lower back and pelvic floor muscles. Many of the pains of late pregnancy are often mistaken for early signs of labor. It may be a little bit of wishful thinking, but it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between a common late pregnancy symptom and early labor.

Here are a few common late pregnancy symptoms that are often mistaken for early signs of labor.

  • Increased pressure (and sometimes pain) in the pelvic area. As the baby moves down or drops the pressure and pain you feel may increase. This can happen as early as several weeks before labor begins.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions have been going on since very early on in your pregnancy. The farther along you are the more you will feel them. Sometimes they even hurt.
  • A change in your appetite. As the baby begins to take up more and more space in there your stomach has less room to expand and you may find you are eating much less now.
  • Nausea. Some women experience this towards the end of their pregnancies due to changes in hormones, pressure on the stomach and intestines, or changes in their diet.
  • Increase in vaginal discharge. Some women pass their mucus plug as early as several weeks before actual labor begins.

If you have any questions about something you are experiencing be sure to call your doctor. It is always better to run it by him or her to be safe. Early signs of actual labor include; rupturing of your membranes (water breaking), contractions that increase in severity and frequency, and bloody show or spotting.

Don’t worry labor will begin sooner or later for you. Although it may feel like the baby will just live in there forever, he or she will make an appearence soon.

As the end of your pregnancy approaches you are probably becoming a little nervous about what to expect, what early signs of labor, and when the call the doctor. Every new mother has these same fears and worries. Knowing how to identify “real” labor, having all the phone numbers handy of who to call when your labor starts, and talking to your doctor about your fears will all help to ease your worries.

So what is labor? Labor is what your body does in order to prepare for and deliver your baby. The contractions help to thin and open the cervix so your baby can move down and out of the birth canal.

Labor will generally start around your due date. If you are experiencing labor symptoms early call your doctor right away. Each pregnancy is different, some women have quick labors, while others will labor for much longer. Just like with everything else about pregnancy every one is different.

Your body will begin doing things to prepare for the labor and delivery any where from a few hours to a few days before your actual labor will begin. This is commonly known as pre-labor. Here are a few early signs of labor to watch out for.

  • Your may notice that your baby seems to have “dropped”. Some time during the last few weeks or days of your pregnancy the baby will begin moving into position for delivery. This is known as enlightening or “dropping”.
  • You may notice that your Braxton Hicks or false labor pains are becoming stronger. These are not actual labor pains but they do work to help begin thinning out the cervix in preparation for the real thing.
  • Many women experience an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea in the days leading up to labor. Your body is getting ready for the pushing that will take place by cleaning out your system.
  • You may experience bloody show (a blood streaked mucus). This typically happens as the cervix begins to dilate. The bloody show is also know as a mucus plug, which plugs the cervix during pregnancy to help prevent infections and bacteria from entering the uterus during pregnancy.

Given all the symptoms that your body is going through to prepare for “real” labor how will you know when the real thing has started? It can be difficult at first to know if what you are experiencing is indeed labor, in no time you will figure it out. Here are the signs that “real” labor has begun and it is time to call the doctor and head to the hospital.

  • Contractions are coming with some frequency at regular intervals, don’t subside when you change position or drink water. When you begin to feel contractions you will want to begin timing them as the doctor will want to know how far apart they are and how long they are lasting.
  • Unlike with false labor pains (Braxton Hicks contractions) you will feel real labor contractions in your back as well as your stomach. The contractions will typically begin in your back and move around to the front.
  • You may feel abdominal cramping or an upset stomach, as well as experience diarrhea. This is thought to be caused by the increased hormones that prompt labor to begin.
  • Your water will break, also known as ruptured membranes. Not all women will experience this, some women will have to have their water broken after arriving at the hospital.

If you experience any of these symptoms, or you have other indications that labor has begun contact your doctor. Your doctor will likely get some information from you to try to determine if this is the real thing and how far along you are. If this is indeed the real thing the doctor will advise you to head to the hospital.

Knowing what to expect and how to identify the early signs of labor can be a little nerve wracking for new mothers. Talk to your doctor or midwife about your concerns and fears. They can help educate you so you feel better prepared.

Here are a few helpful websites.