Being pregnant for the first time comes with many emotions. It could be shock or celebration (or both). Tears of happiness or tears that come from fear. Questions about when to tell friends and family, how to swing it financially, whether you’ll need a bigger home, when to start saving for college, changes your body will experience, and so on. The list is long and so are the nights worrying about it.
So, besides reading pregnancy classics, such as What to Expect When You’re Expecting and taking childbirth classes, how do you know when you’ve gone into labor?
5 Signs You’re in Labor
Something to keep in mind is that even when you’re in labor, it could take days for your baby to arrive. So prepare yourself mentally for the possibility of being in labor for a while.
Watch for the following clues that your baby’s grand entrance is right around the corner:
- Your Baby “Drops”. This is a very popular phrase, but what does it mean? It means that your baby’s head has dropped lower into your pelvis. Physically, you’ll notice a difference: You’ll feel less pressure under your ribcage, you’ll breathe easier, and you’ll feel your pelvis get heavier, adding pressure to your bladder. Get ready to pee even more frequently. You’ll also likely waddle when walking. Be aware that this can happen up to a month before it’s time to give birth.
- Braxton Hicks Contractions. These contractions are also known as false labor, because while you can feel the uterus tightening, it’s not time to give birth yet. You’ll know they’re Braxton Hicks if they are infrequent and ease up, then disappear. They usually last between 30 to 60 seconds and follow no specific rhythm. If you’re taking childbirth classes, this is a good time to practice your breathing.
- Mucus Plug Releases. During your pregnancy, a portion of thick mucus seals the cervix shut. When your body is getting ready to give birth, the cervix will start opening, causing the plug to release. You’ll see it in your underwear, and it’ll look like very thick vaginal discharge tinted with a little bit of blood or brown spots.
- Your Water Breaks. This refers to when the amniotic sac breaks and amniotic fluid leaks out. For some women, it feels like a small trickle, while others actually feel the liquid gush out. It could break either before or after contractions start. When your water breaks, call your OB-GYN as soon as possible, since you’ll want to deliver your baby within 24 hours to reduce the risk of infection now that there’s less amniotic fluid protecting them.
- Contractions. While Braxton Hicks contractions ease up as time goes by, labor contractions are much stronger, last longer, are more frequent, and they follow a specific rhythm. The pain will start slowly, peak, and go away, only to start again and repeat until you give birth.
What to Do When You First Go Into Labor
Labor can last a while, so as hard as it may sound, try to relax. Have a loved one with you for moral support, and to help you with all of the following:
- Time Your Contractions. The closer birth gets, the more frequent and intense these will become. Once you’re in active labor, they will last between 60 and 90 seconds, each.
- Get Into Water. If contractions have just started, getting into warm water in a bath tub or kiddie pool can help alleviate some of the pain.
- Stay Hydrated. Drinking enough water will increase your blood volume, which will be essential to provide your baby with enough oxygen and will provide you with energy during labor. If labor lasts for several hours, you can alternate water with soup, fruit, and smoothies.
- Expect to Feel Uncomfortable. In addition to pain, women in labor often feel nausea, hot flashes, and gas pain.
- Chew On Ice Chips. Because you’ll need extra water and you’ll have hot flashes, ice chips will keep you hydrated and help cool you down. Keep cool, wet towels handy for comfort during hot flashes.
It’ll help you feel a sense of control if you have a packed bag (for you and your baby) well before going into labor. Create a comfortable area in your home, with plenty of pillows, heat packs, your favorite scented candles, and an area to place wet towels once you start feeling contractions.
Contact us at OB-GYN Women’s Center
Pregnancy is a milestone in any woman’s life! You should have proper care from the time you miss your period, through the delivery of your baby.
At OB-GYN Women’s Center, we’ll provide you with the best prenatal care during all stages of pregnancy, taking into account your individual medical needs.
Contact us to schedule an appointment. We look forward to meeting you and your baby.