To avoid ending up delivering alone or in the car on the way to the hospital, you should be well conscious of the early symptoms of labor. Some women breeze through giving birth, while others find labour and childbirth painfully difficult. Here’s what to expect, and professional tips on pain relief management.
When does labor starts?
Labor typically happens between the 37th and 42nd weeks, although it is called pre-term labour at any point before the 37th (some doctors also say 38th) week. You can also undergo induced labour, which is typically 12 days after the planned due date, whether you have spent 42 weeks or not. It has been noted that it usually starts at night, too. Doctors say it is melatonin’s effect!
When you reach your due date, any cramp and pain will make you wonder: is that it? Am I on the job? Is nausea a symptom of labour approaching? The fact is, having the baby out of you is a long process even if your actual delivery is blessedly quick — and your body begins planning weeks before the real deal begins. Here are some signs of work that you may feel in the run up to the birth of your infant.
Signs of labor:
These ‘work’ contractions will begin as early as 24 weeks, and are merely a tightening of the uterus. You can feel the whole abdomen hardening, and then relax again. These contractions may be unpleasant, but they are not necessarily painful. They may arrive most often at the end of the pregnancy — though they are not usually an early indication of labor.
Felt the pain was just in the first trimester? Unfortunately, some women feel it again when close to work. You can also find loose stools or diarrhoea — all your muscles tend to relax as you enter labour, and your rectum is one of them (though not every woman can feel it).
Your baby could start going down to your pelvis as he gets ready to move out. This can be particularly obvious if your baby has been put under your rib cage for the past few weeks. Expect people to yell, ‘The baby has dropped down! ‘When they’re seeing you.
Mucus near the cervix protects the infant from bacteria. When the cervix begins to relax and dilate, you may get mucus discharge — it may be clear or blood tinged — and it may come out just before or days before active labor begins. Not every mom-to-be realises that her mucus plug is going out.
You may have noticed a few kicks before, but now the kicks are definitely more intense than ever before. In fact, this is one of the cutest and most visible early signs of the approaching labor force.
Usually, the water break is not as drastic as we can see in movies, which sometimes occurs after contractions started, or sometimes in a hospital when you’re still far into work. But if you ever get a quick rush of fluid, it may be the water cracking, showing the work is coming. If this happens to you, call your midwife or your doctor.
Often, if your infant is sitting in an odd location in your uterus, your contractions can feel more like intense, rhythmic back pain. “If the uterus presses against the spine when the infant is in a different location, you will feel more back labor.
When you supposed to go to the hospital?
You might be tempted to go to the hospital as soon as contractions begin, but doctors and midwives advise you to wait before they get more regular and painful, particularly if it’s your first child. “We’re asking women to be on the lookout for the ‘4-1-1’ maxim,” says Schofield: “Contractions that are four minutes apart, lasting one minute, and going on for one hour.”