How will I know when my labor and delivery begins? That is sometimes a difficult question because each woman and each pregnancy are different. Maybe this is your first child, and you are confused by friends and relatives who tell you that labor will be the toughest hours of your life or that it will not be so bad. Perhaps you have already borne a child and you expect this early signs labor to be similar to your previous one. Whatever you expect, expect the unexpected.
Every labor is slightly different. But there are some good indicators that labor is beginning or about ready to begin.
- A few days or hours before labor actually begins, you may have what is called”bloody show.” This is the discharge of a small amount of blood-tinged mucus. Actually, it is the mucus plug that formed the barrier between your uterus and your vagina during your pregnancy.
- The membranes surrounded by amniotic fluid may rupture or break at the beginning of labor or as the labor process progresses. If the membranes fail to rupture during labor, the physician ruptures them. When your membranes (sometimes called “bag of waters”) rupture, you may feel a gush of fluid from your vagina or simply a slow trickle.
- Contractions may or may not be a sign that you are in labor. Throughout pregnancy, you may have noticed your uterus contracting. These are called Braxton Hicks contractions, and they usually do not cause discomfort until the last weeks of pregnancy. Many women then have these contractions and believe they are in labor. It is often difficult for pregnant women to distinguish between these Braxton Hicks contractions (false labor) and those of real labor.
- If your periods are regular and they came every 28 days, you should expect that you will deliver very close to your estimated date. If your periods are longer than 28 days, you will mostly deliver past your estimated date and if they are shorter, you should expect delivering earlier. But if your period is irregular, this dating method will not apply for you at all. Suppose you haven’t had your cycle in 4 months and all of a sudden you’re carrying a baby. When did you get pregnant? Considering a decisive EDD is necessary, you and your obstetrician will have to attempt to come up with one.
- Last but not the least, you’ll observe more back or body pain when you’re near to your labor. Your joints and muscles will be stretching, and shifting in preparation for birth.
If you have any of these signs, notify your physician. Your physician may want to examine you to see whether your cervix is dilating and thinning (effacing), signs that the baby is getting ready to be born. Some doctors will do a sonogram routinely, to obtain the most accurate date possible.
As delivery nears, there will be other clues to the date of the big event: painless contractions may become more frequent (and possibly uncomfortable), the fetus will drop into the pelvis (engagement), your cervix will begin to thin and shorten (effacement), and last of all, your cervix will begin to dilate. These clues will be helpful, but not definitive only your baby knows for sure what his or her birthday will be.
If all of these signs and symptoms of labour seem to correspond to the due date you and your practitioner have calculated, you can be pretty sure that it is close to labor.
This is a good time to make sure that you have your hospital bag packed and ready and that you have bought and prepared all the things your newborn will need.
You should also have already taken a short tour around your local hospital or birth center with your partner in order familiarize yourself with where everything is located. Make sure that you are also already registered there.
You should go through your birth plan with your partner so that they are made aware of what you want in regards to administering pain medication and who you want in the room with you when the time to deliver arrives.