Am I in Labor?

Perhaps you have feel strong cramps in your abdomen and your back is aching. Is this it? Are you in labor? First, it is important that you know the difference between true labor and Braxton Hicks contractions or false labor.

True Labor

- Contractions gets stronger and closer together
- Contractions are in a fairly regular pattern
- Walking or changing position makes them stronger
- Contractions are usually felt beginning in the back and moving forward
- Cervix opens and thins

Braxton Hicks or False labor

- Contractions remain the same strength, distance, and length
- Contractions may be irregular
- Walking or changing position does not affect the contractions
- These contractions may be felt up high in the front

Signs that labor may be on its way
Your body will usually give you clue that labor is beginning. You need to familiarize yourself with these signs. These are the signs that labor may be approaching, although they are not necessarily predictors of labor. They are good signs that your body is doing what is necessary to prepare for the birth. Some women notice them and others do not, either way is perfectly normal for you.

You should not worry if you do not notice these signs:

- A sudden burst of energy or the "nesting instinct". This is an instinct in which the female of the species prepares the nest for the impending arrival.
- Lightening or dropping of the baby (you may be able to breathe easier and urinate more). This usually occurs somewhere between two and four weeks before the onset of labor in first-time mothers. It is basically the beginning of the baby’s descent into the pelvis.
- Sensations of increasing pressure in the pelvis and rectum. Persistent low back pain may also be present.
- An upset stomach
- Diarrhea
- Bloody show (this may be the cervix beginning to open, or from sex or a vaginal exam)
- Loss of your mucous plug
- Rupture of membranes. Sometimes labor begins with the bag of waters or membranes rupture, however, this usually does not happen until very late in labor. If your water breaks you may notice a near constant trickle of fluid from the vagina or a sudden gush. You should talk to your care giver about when to call about your waters breaking, but you should definitely notify them if you experience the following:

- Fluid is not clear, but green or brownish
- You have a fever

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