Signs Of Labor In Pregnancy
Now that you are pregnant you are probably already anticipating the day that you will go into labor. Labor can be both an exciting and scary subject for pregnant women. You are eager to be united with your baby, but at the same time, you might be afraid of the pain or complications that could go along with labor. Many women also worry that they won't recognize the signs of labor when they occur. It is important to educate yourself about the signs of labor and delivery so that you will know exactly what to expect.
Preparing for Labor
Before you get too far along in your pregnancy, it is a good idea to learn as much as you can about the stages of labor. Find out what it entails, what it feels like, and what your delivery options are. If you are giving birth in a hospital, you may want to take a quick tour of the maternity facilities. If you are giving birth at home, you may want to talk with someone else who has gone through this process. Here are some easy things to do that can get you prepared for labor:
- attend a birthing class
- talk with friends who have given birth or other women in labor classes
- research labor and birth at your local library or women's center
- watch a labor and delivery video
- practice breathing and relaxation techniques
True Labor vs False Labor
If you are worried about getting confused between true labor and false labor, you are not alone. A lot of women are unsure about the early signs of labor. Most women experience signs of labor but don't know whether its the real thing or just something as simple as indigestion. If you are feeling contractions or seeing other symptoms of labor, then it is a good idea to get checked out by your health care provider. Don't be embarrassed if it turns out to be a false alarm - practitioners see this all the time and it is a part of the normal pregnancy process. One thing you don't want to do is stay at home alone and ignore the signs that your body is giving you.
Contractions are one of the first and most important signals that baby is on her way! If you are feeling labor contractions, you may be beginning labor, so it is important to keep track of them, including their length, intensity, and how many minutes apart they are. You might want to get your partner to help you with this, especially if the contractions become really intense.
True contractions tend to occur at regular and consistent intervals. They will also become stronger in intensity and last for longer periods of time if you are really going into labor. If your labor pain continues to come at five minute intervals, you should probably contact your health care provider and begin your plan for labor, whatever that may be.
False contractions, also called Braxton Hicks contractions, should feel quite different from real labor contractions. They are often less painful and should eventually decline in intensity. Unlike real labor pains, Braxton Hicks will not increase in frequency unless you are engaging in particularly heavy work or activity.
You have probably been suffering from a sore and aching back for a while now, but back pain is also a sign that you may be going into labor. If your lower back feels particularly achy than it could be a labor sign If you are in labor, this back pain should also increase in intensity. Back pain often comes along with symptoms similar to those you would get with you period. You may feel particularly crampy or premenstrual.
On television or in the movies, women always seem to realize that they are in labor because their water suddenly breaks. Unfortunately, things are not this easy in real life. Many women going into labor and never have their water break. Often, your health care practioner will choose to break your water for you in order to speed labor along.
If you do notice your water breaking, that it is probably a sign that you are going into labor or are already in labor. You may feel a huge gush of liquid or perhaps you will only notice a tiny trickle. If your water breaks you should call your health care practitioner and tell her, so that you can decide on a plan of action together.
You may notice that your contractions become stronger once your water has broken. This is definitely a sign of impending labor.
Labor is often preceded by the appearance of a bloody discharge from the vagina. This discharge is actually the mucous plug that blocks the entrance to the cervix. This mucuous plug has spent the last nine months protecting your baby from infection. Now that the mucuous plug is gone, your baby can begin to move down into the birth canal.
This plug is often referred to as a bloody show, as it looks like it is tinged with blood. It can be dark brown or red in appearance. Once this plug has appeared, labor can occur at any time, although it could still be days away.
Dilation of the Cervix
Once you begin labor, your cervix will become softer and thinner than usual. This is referred to as effacement. Your cervix will also begin to dilate to accomodate the size of your baby.
You probably won't notice that your cervix is dilating or that you are becoming effaced. Your health care provider will notice this effacement during your pelvic exam.
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