There comes a point when every pregnancy turns into a waiting game. You’ve read all the books and baby-proofed the house; all that’s missing is your little bundle of joy! Around this time, women start thinking that every kick or pain is labor. But how can you tell? Once you’ve reached at least 37 weeks in your pregnancy, your baby could be on his or her way at any moment! If this is your first child, it can be hard to tell if you are truly in labor. And the last thing anyone wants is to do is to go all the way to the hospital, only to be sent right back home. Learn the symptoms of labor so when your little one is on the way you’ll be ready.
A week or so before you are ready to deliver; you may feel what is known as lightning. This is when your baby starts settling into your pelvis. Your baby may not actually feel lighter; in fact you may notice heaviness in your pelvis. However, you will feel less pressure below the ribcage.
During pregnancy, the mucus plug gathers in the cervix. As a woman grows closer to having her baby, the cervix starts to open wider and the mucus discharges from the vagina. While the passing of the mucus plug is traditionally called the “bloody show,” not all women experience blood. This discharge may also be clear or pink. Many women go into labor soon after the passing of the mucus plug, while it still may be weeks for others.
Many women may be experiencing “false” labor, known as Braxton Hicks contractions, for weeks before they go into labor. However, once these contractions start feeling longer and stronger and become closer together, you may be going into “true” labor. If you suddenly have contractions that won’t ease up, labor may have begun.
When your baby is on his or her way, the fluid-filled amniotic sac around your baby will rupture. This causes either a small trickle or a large gush of fluid to discharge out of the vagina. Your water usually breaks after contractions have started, however in some cases the water may break first. If this happens, contractions usually start shortly after. Once your water breaks, you should call your doctor at once. If labor does not start after your water breaks, then your doctor need to induce labor since your baby is no longer being protected by their amniotic sac.
The most important thing you can do while pregnant is to listen to your body. If you believe you are going into labor, call your doctor at once! Even if it just turns out to be a false alarm, you should play it safe. If you are early enough in labor, it is possible for your doctor to perform a quick cervical check before sending you for evaluation at the hospital. Schedule an appointment today.