Labor Signs – The Delivery Time Is Almost Here!
When the third trimester hits, the nervousness and anticipation of childbirth and your little one in your arms also kick in. By now, you must be ready with your hospital bag packed and the shopping for the arrival of your little one. Now is also the right time to know about the signs of labor and be prepared. Before we understand the signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away, let us understand labor.
What Is Labor?
Labor is the complete process of childbirth. Labor starts with the contraction of the uterus, which is the main reason for expecting moms to start feeling the pain. So, pain is usually the most prominent sign of labor. Then comes the stage of cervical dilation and ends with the baby's delivery.
Signs Of Active Labor Approaching
Ideally, you would not go into labor without pre-labor signs. However, there are certain signs of labor approaching. The following are approaching labor signs.
- Strong, frequent contractions- When labor is approaching, the muscles of your uterus will start to tighten up. This contraction of the uterus is meant to help you push your baby out. The contractions will become stronger, and the time between each contraction will decrease as childbirth approaches. If you're unsure whether these are signs of going into labor, ask yourself these questions:
- Are the contractions evenly spaced?
- How long do the contractions last?
- Are the contractions strong?
If your contractions are strong and last between 30 – 70 seconds and are 5 – 10 minutes apart, this indicates active labor symptoms, and you are about to deliver.
- Bloody show – If you have brownish or reddish mucus discharge, this means your mucus plus is out, and you are in labor. This is known as blood show.
- Belly and lower back pain – Back pains are common during pregnancy, but they usually go away if you lie down or change positions. If you experience back and belly pain that does not go away even if you take rest or change positions, that is a sign that active labor kicks in.
- Water breaking – Well, that's the ultimate signs labor has started. Your baby floats in a sack full of amniotic fluid inside your womb. When the water breaks, you will feel a big rush of water flowing out of your vagina.
Early Signs & Symptoms Before Labor Begins / Pre-Labor Symptoms
Also known as pre-labor symptoms, there are certain labour pains symptoms you might experience that indicate that labor is near but hasn't begun yet. Here are those signs.
- Baby drops – Suddenly, you will feel a lot less pressure on your lungs, and you will be able to breathe better. On the contrary, the pressure on your bladder and lower back will increase, and you will pee more frequently. This is because the baby takes its position for vaginal birth. This is known as 'Baby Drop.'
- Cervical dilation – It might be difficult for you to realise if this happens, but during your weekly checkups in the final weeks of your third trimester, your doctor will check for cervical dilation as that is one of the signs of impending labor.
- Cramps and increased back pain – Back pain starts around the second trimester and lasts through the pregnancy. But as your labor ould be near, the cramps and back pain would peak, and you might constantly feel uncomfortable, no matter how comfortably you sit or lie down.
- Loosening of joints – To prepare the body for childbirth, your body releases a hormone called relaxin a few days before labor. This hormone is responsible for loosening your joints and ligaments to prepare for delivery.
- Diarrhea – The relaxin also loosens up the rectum muscles, thus leading to pre-labor diarrhea.
- Weight loss – Your body will start losing excess water towards the end of your third trimester due to diarrhea and frequent urination. This would result in losing upto a KG or two due to water loss from the body.
- Fatigue and the nesting instinct – A day or two before the labor would begin, your fatigue level would be at its peak. You will also naturally feel the instinct to clean and prepare the house and keep everything perfect for your baby's arrival. This is called 'Nesting.'
How Can I Tell True Labor Signs and False Alarm Apart?
Sometimes what you might assume to be early labor signs or signs of labor at 37 weeks or earlier can be just Braxton hicks contractions. They feel just like labor but are a false alarm. On the other hand, some women experience frequent Braxton hicks contractions in the final weeks before actual labor starts. Here is how you can tell the two apart.
False Alarm (Braxton Hicks)
How regular are the contractions
The contractions are regular and last 30 – 70 seconds each.
They are irregular and do not get closer each time. They usually happen after exhausting physical activity.
How strong are the contractions
The contractions keep getting stronger over time, making it difficult for you even to walk or talk.
They are painful but do not get stronger over time. They reduce if you take a walk or change position.
What is preterm labor?
For a singleton pregnancy, almost 90% of pregnencies reach the 37th week of pregnancy. However, some expecting moms often experience early contractions and go into labor before the 37th week. This is known as preterm labor. If you experience any of the signs and symptoms mentioned in the article before the 37th week, immediately call up or visit your gynecologist.
Labor pains and childbirth might sound a bit scary to a few, but your body has been preparing for it for the last nine months. So it is time to relax and be stress-free now, and time to bring a new life into this world. You got it, mamma!