Most pregnant women right from the very beginning, ask plenty of questions regarding labor and delivery. As they get closer to the final stage of their pregnancy, they get more curious and concerned about labor and delivery are going to be like. Information is the key here. The more informed you are, the better equipped you will be to handle everything. Though there is indeed no method to find out the ‘exact’ date and time of labor, yet there are sure signs that you must watch out for.
When you notice specific physical and hormonal changes in your body, such as effacement and dilation of the cervix, water breaking, contractions, passing of the mucus plug, and lightening. You must consult your doctor immediately because all these are strong indications that your labor is about to begin.
When you experience labor contractions, you will feel as if your abdomen is tightening or getting hard. However, these contractions don’t stay on. They appear at regular time intervals, which can be as short as five minutes. Between two strikes of contractions, the abdomen becomes soft and the uterus relaxes.
However, the intensity varies from one pregnancy to another and also from one woman to another. In general, it moves like a wave from the top of the uterus to the bottom. It will cause significant discomfort for you, as you may feel an increased pressure in the pelvis and pain in your lower abdomen.
Sometimes, even if you are experiencing symptoms, it may not be an accurate indication of labor. It is always good to know how to differentiate true labor from the false one. For example, if the labor contractions stop when you relax by changing your position, it means it is false labor.
Irregular uterine contractions, which are also referred to as Braxton Hicks contractions, are a perfectly normal occurrence. You may experience them right from the second trimester.
Identifying True Labor
There are specific contraction characteristics, based on which you can decide whether you are in false or true labor. For example, if the contractions appear like the following, it means they are the “real thing” –
- They appear at regular intervals and last for almost one minute.
- They start in wave-like motion that moves from the lower back to the front of the abdomen.
- They don’t go away even if you change your position or movement.
- Their intensity steadily increases.
Besides contractions, there can be several other signs of labor as well, such as the passing of the mucus plug and lightening. During the final stage of pregnancy, the mucus plug accumulates at the cervix.
The vagina may discharge this mucus when the cervix gets wider. The discharge can be slightly bloody or clear pink. In most cases, the labor begins a couple of days after the discharge, but sometimes, the labor may start one or two weeks later.
Lightning, on the other hand, is a process when the baby settles lowering down into the pelvis. It may cause you to feel an urge for frequent urination.
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