Labor Overview: Signs and Symptoms
Labor is the most expected event in a pregnancy. Every woman waits for this experience impatiently and fears it. Luckily your body starts to get prepared for labor weeks before it happens. Labor signs start around the 37th week of gestation. It can happen earlier in some cases causing premature delivery or it can be late and necessitates induction. No one knows what stimulates labor and when labor starts. You will start noticing some physical changes and your body will send signs that labor has started. Here are some of the signs that you might experience:
- The baby drops in your pelvis creating pressure on the bladder. You will urinate frequently and you will experience difficulty in walking. This process is known also as lightening.
- Ripening and opening of the cervix: The cervix gets soften and thinner during the last weeks of your pregnancy. You will not feel any changes. Your doctor will check the status of the cervix with a vaginal exam. Usually the cervix effaces and then dilates up to 10cm. You will notice a vaginal discharge of mucus plug tinged with blood.
- Loose stools: Some women experience loosening of stools caused by the release of prostaglandins.
- Increased Contractions: Braxton Hicks contractions change and become intense, regular and start from the lower back then move to the front. These contractions do not disappear whatever you do.
- Rupture of the membrane: It consists of the rupture of membranes that contain the amniotic fluid and the baby. The fluid may come out in a rush or just in small drops. You should notify your doctor immediately once the rupture happens. Usually labor starts directly after the rupture of the membranes.
Once you feel you are in true labor, start timing your contractions. Contractions start 15mn to 20mn apart and become closer. You should time the contraction from the time it starts till it finishes. It usually lasts 60seconds. Begin with the breathing exercise, distract yourself and try to walk around. Some women are comforted by a warm shower. If your contractions are regular for an hour, contact your doctor and drive your way to the hospital. Your baby is about to come!