- Contractions and lower back pain are some of the symptoms of active labor
- Early labor also occur in some women which last for 3-5 hours
- If you have severe bleeding or higher temperature, call a midwife or get medical help soon.
A baby is expected to arrive before or on the due date. From the 36th week of pregnancy, the mother can pack her labor bag and get ready for delivering the baby anytime when the pain strikes. In the 36th week, the mother is heavily pregnant, and movement of the baby slows down in the womb. The mother experiences nausea, back pains, irritable sleeping patterns, contractions, a myriad of emotions and mood swings, heavy vaginal discharge, loose bowels, heartburn relief, a spurt of energy and most importantly she experiences ‘baby dropping.’
Signs which show that the baby is on its way:
- Baby dropping
In the 1st pregnancy of a woman, she experiences baby dropping, anywhere from a few hours or even few weeks before the labor begins. During this time the woman may feel as if the baby has dropped to her pelvis. She can notice an increase in the vaginal discharge which can be pink, brown or little bloody (spotting). This is also called lightening. When the baby settles into a lower position in the pelvis, more pressure is felt on her pelvis and bladder, resulting in frequent tendencies for bathroom visits. The woman’s tummy appears to be lower and more protruding.
- Strong contractions
Uterus contractions help for delivering the baby. Towards the end of pregnancy, the uterus contractions push the baby down into a lower position in the birth canal. Labor involves strong, rhythmic and regular contractions which generally start in a woman’s back and then come around to the front. Contractions happen at regular intervals and make you stronger.
- Lower back pain and cramping
During labor, the woman experiences cramps felt during periods and intense pressure in her pelvic and rectal areas. Due to this she also has lower back pains. So you must lie down and relax to prepare and catch your breath. Drink lots of water or juice because dehydration can ease the pains and symptoms.
- Nausea and Loose Bowels
Some may experience frequent loose stools at the beginning of labor, or some may have nausea during labor.
- Dilation and Effacement
Dilation (measured in centimeter) is the opening of the cervix and effacement (measured in %) is the thinning and stretching of the cervix, noticed during the labor or delivery period nears i.e. towards the end of pregnancy.
- Water breaks
The fetus is surrounded and protected by amniotic fluid. It has been growing and developing in the mother’s uterus. When the protective sac of fluid breaks, there is a gush of liquid. This is the time when you realize that the baby is going to arrive soon. Water break can take place in advance of the labor in some women. It is advised to call their midwife when their water breaks so that she could describe how the fluid’s color and the odor is. This would help determine if it is a common symptom of leaking urine or the amniotic fluid.
Once the water breaks, the baby is no longer protected by the fluid and can be at a risk of infection. So, the doctors and midwives recommend the baby to be delivered in a day or two after the water breaks.
Water breaks because the uterus rests directly on top of the bladder and it can also cause leakage of urine (it is a common symptom).
- Joint become looser
Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, hormones make the ligaments softer and delicate; they become loose. So before the labor, the joints become loose, and there is an opening up of the pelvis. It is the nature’s way of making a smooth arrival for the baby.
When to call a midwife?
A midwife or an obstetrician is a woman who is a health care professional and assists a pregnant woman in child birth. A midwife can confirm if the cervix has started to change by a vaginal examination. Whenever unsure or in doubt call a midwife for help.
- If there is a change in the baby’s usual movement pattern
- If there is any itching or a rash felt or if there is rise in temperature or fever
- If there is any vision change, headache, or sudden swelling of face, feet, and hands.
- If there is any fluid loss, vaginal bleeding or bright discharge experienced.
- Pains felt while urinating
- Uneasy feeling
Entering labor is one of the happiest moments because the mother is happy and restless at the same time to meet the baby. For an early labor, there is no need to panic, and one must try to be relaxed at that time. Anxiety, doubts, relief, excitement, frustration, nervousness, fear, etc. might be experienced at early labor.
Early labor is not an active labor and would last for 3-5 hours. The contractions would be stronger and longer during this time. Breathing and relaxation techniques must be practiced. In early labor, the cervix moves to the front position and thins down, and dilates. Be hydrated in this phase to avoid fatigue and poor functioning of the uterus.