How can I tell when I’m going to go into labor?
Worried about going into labor and not knowing what signs to look out for? Worry not. There’s really no way to predict when labor will start but with a little help , you should be fine. We have compiled some early signs of labour and all you need to know, so you know when to call your doctor.
Your body actually starts preparing for labour as much as a month before you give birth, so you may begin to notice new symptoms as your due date approaches.
Here are some early signs of labour:
- You have more Braxton Hicks contractions. This could also happen weeks before actual labor and is known as false labour. When it becomes more frequent and intense, this can signal Pre labour, which is when your cervix starts to thin and widen, and sets the stage for true labor. Some women experience menstrual-like cramps during this time.
- Pelvic Pressure.Your baby drops lower into the pelvis. This is also known as lightening and can happen as early as two to four weeks before labor. You might feel less pressure just below your ribcage, making it easier to catch your breath but this pressure also comes along with frequent urination and pelvic and rectal pressure.
- Changes in your cervix. As your body starts preparing for delivery, some changes seem to occur in your cervix. These changes can occur anytime from days to weeks before delivery. The cervix softens and starts to dilate. This dilation does not always mean labor is imminent as the cervix of women who have had babies before is likely to dilate a centimeter before labor. Check with your doctor to know if your cervix is changing as it should.
- Bloody Show or Loss of the mucus plug. This can happen between one to weeks or just hours before labor, but not in all pregnancies. It is a small amount of thickened mucus tinged with brown, pink or red blood which explains why it is called “bloody show” that is expelled through the cervical canal and could pass out all at once as a vaginal discharge or over the course of several days. This also does not necessarily mean that labor is imminent as having sex or even a vaginal exam at this stage could result in some blood discharge.
Signs that labor is imminent, if not already under way, include:
- True Contractions. This is one sure sign of labor. When the intensity and frequency of contractions increases over time, you are most likely in labor. True contractions are known to cause significant discomfort in the low back or abdomen that makes you sometimes unable to talk. You’ll also be able to tell the difference between false contractions and true contractions by timing your contractions. In the beginning, labor contractions may be as far apart as every 10 minutes, but they won’t stop or ease up no matter what you do. And in time, they’ll become more painful and closer together. In some cases, though, the onset of strong, regular contractions comes with little or no warning. It’s different for every woman and with every pregnancy
- Water breaks.The fluid-filled amniotic sac surrounding your baby spontaneously ruptures, and warm fluid runs down your legs from your vagina. When this happens(no matter the amount of fluid coming out), you should call your doctor or midwife.
For most women, contractions come before their water breaks, but in some cases, water breaks first. When this happens you’ll most likely have to be induced just because your baby might get an infection without the amniotic sac’s protection.
It is best to call your doctor or midwife when you’re not sure about certain symptoms or just don’t feel yourself. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell if you’re having real labor signs or not, usually from the sound of your voice and other symptoms .
Other reasons to call your midwife at once are:
- If you suspect you’re leaking amniotic fluid. Your doctor or midwife will like to know the color of the liquid flowing out if it’s yellow, brown, or greenish because this signals the presence of meconium, your baby’s first stool, and is sometimes a sign of fetal stress. It’s also important to let her know if the fluid looks bloody.
- You start having contractions before 37 weeks or have any other signs of preterm labor like vaginal bleeding, unusual viginal discharge, pressure in your pelvic area, abdominal pain or low back pain.
- If you have severe or persistent headaches, vision changes or other symptoms of preeclampsia.