How To Know When You’re In Labor!

February 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Pregnancy

It’s normal to have doubts and uncertainties about labor and all that it entails, and more so if you’re pregnant for the first time! It’s expected. However, childbirth always varies from one child to the next and from mother to mother. You’ll feel more at ease if you know more about the situation, and what to expect.

Braxton Hicks, also known as false contractions, are an issue that pregnant women have to be informed about as they have all the signs of labor and can be quite tricky! You may find yourself getting labor pains and running to the hospital, only to be told that these aren’t the real labor pains! This can be quite embarrassing, which is why most women wish to avoid false labor pains.

Remember, however, that there’s no reason for getting embarrassed. After all, there’s no proven way to determine the onset of labor as yet. The due date of the baby can be determined by diagnostic tools, but again, this date is only a close estimate. The earlier the pregnancy is detected, the higher the accuracy of the due date given. In fact, only an estimated 5% of pregnant women deliver on the date provided by the physician.

Some women deliver on time, others earlier or later by one or two weeks. There’s no hard and fast rule about when you have to deliver, and delivering early is not a sign of premature labor, no matter what you might think! The gestation period varies from woman to woman, and is only set at nine months which is the average term of a human pregnancy.

Nonetheless, there are some signs of labor that need to be heeded.

An expectant mother with her first fetus may notice the changes as her due date approaches. The baby shifts downwards slightly, into the birth canal, fourteen to twenty-one days before the first signs of labor. As pressure increases on the bladder, the urge to urinate occurs more often. Breathing also improves as the baby frees up the diaphragm.

In a second or later pregnancy, this shift is rarely felt by the pregnant mother, since it happens some hours before the onset of labor pains.

As an expectant mother, you may continue to feel some sort of mild contractions where the baby shifts position. Generally, this happens because increased production of some hormones can lead to neural reactions which cause contractions. After six months, such contractions occur more often and become more powerful as time goes by.

As these contractions increase, so does the energy of the expectant mother, which they try to expel by doing household projects, such as furnishing the nursery and so on. This is healthy, but don’t overdo it!

A clear sign of labor is when the small mucous plug which closed off the cervix at the time of the pregnancy stretches and tears apart, releasing pink mucous. This will soon be followed by the tear in the amniotic sac, called ‘breaking your water’. And then starts the process of natural childbirth. If you see deep red blood instead of pink mucus, go to the hospital immediately as it could be a signal of detachment of the placenta.

Now comes the hard part. Be calm, be collected, and you’ll soon have your baby in your arms!