What to Expect When Going Into Labor
Finding out you’re pregnant for the first time can be exciting. And scary. And overwhelming. You will learn so much in the weeks and months to come. Besides picking out names, decorating a nursery, and planning for maternity leave, you’ll likely figure out pretty quickly how to deal with morning sickness as well as other possible discomforts throughout the pregnancy.
But what about that crowning moment of glory when it’s time to give birth?
Signs You’re Going Into Labor
Although your doctor will give you a due date, that’s just an approximation of when the baby will make his or her grand entrance. The reality is that it could be anywhere between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. In fact, before your eyes bulge out at the “42” number, be aware that it’s common for your first baby to want to hang out a little longer inside your womb.
Since you won’t know the exact time baby is coming, any sign of a contraction may seem like cause for concern. However, if contractions are infrequent and ease up instead of increasing in intensity, you may be experiencing Braxton Hicks Contractions.
When your body is ready to go into labor, you’ll experience the following symptoms:
- Pain in your abdomen that comes in waves
- The pain starts slowly, peaks, and goes away
- The waves come in regular intervals
- Mucus-like vaginal discharge
- You feel like your baby “drops” lower (this can also happen a few weeks before your due date)
- Back pain
- Your joints feel more relaxed
- Tightening sensation in your abdomen
- Your water breaks (it can feel like a trickle or gushing liquid)
What does going into labor feel like?
Early labor can last between 8 and 12 hours, so try to relax. Also, enlist someone to time your contractions. At the very beginning stages, you may feel like you’re experiencing menstrual cramps.
Once you’re in an active labor phase, your contractions will become more intense, more regular, and longer (typically between 60 and 90 seconds each). If you’ve been attending childbirth classes, this is the time to start doing those breathing exercises.
Drink plenty of water during this period and expect it to be uncomfortable. In addition to the contractions, you may feel:
- Hot flashes
- Gas pain
- If you place your hands on your belly, you’ll feel the womb hardening
Keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all description of what labor feels like. While some symptoms are universal, the level of pain varies greatly from woman to woman. Some experience what could be described as spams, while other women go through significant pain.
About 50% of women request an epidural as they prepare for childbirth, which allows them to be fully present for the delivery without experiencing the most intense part of the discomfort.
Contact us at OB-GYN Women’s Center at Any Stage of Your Pregnancy for Care
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.