Now that you have entered into your last trimester, you might be eager to notice the signs of labour. However, labour signs are not similar in every woman. Some women can see and feel distinct signs, while others just can’t feel anything at all. There are a few common signs that indicate that your baby is on its way.
Let’s take a look at a few common signs that will tell you that you are in labour.
Early Signs of Labour
When you are full term pregnant, which is 38-42 week, you should be ready to feel the signs of pre-labour. This is the time when early labour begins and some of the most prominent signs are given below.
Your waters break!
When the amniotic sac that holds and protects the baby ruptures, the amniotic fluid begins to come out from your vagina. Breaking of the waters is the first sign of early labour, which occurs only in 15%-25% cases. This fluid doesn’t come out as a flood, like the way that television operas have had us believe. This fluid will continue to come out in small amounts for several days. You might also feel a popping sensation when this happens. It is best to wear a pad when your waters break. Do not make use of tampons.
The second most prominent sign of pre-labour is regular contractions. These contractions feel a lot like period pain, giving you cramps, and causing pain in the lower back. Normal contractions should not be counted as they are just part of the early signs of labour and not the actual labour. When these contractions begin to feel stronger and last a longer time, then it might mean that your time is near.
Sometimes contractions begin before pre-labour time period, but these will be irregular and not stronger. The contractions that you feel in labour are much stronger. They are also regular and can be felt in a pattern with regular time intervals. The interval between each contraction also begins to minimize when you are in the last stages of your labour.
Mucus Plug Comes Off
When you are pregnant, your cervix is sealed off with a mucus plug which prevents infections from reaching the baby. When you are in your last weeks of pregnancy, this mucus plug will come off. It is a thick jelly-like blob that has a brown, pink or reddish tint to it. This blob can show up any time during your last two to three weeks of pregnancy, and may sometimes keep occurring for several days.
After this jelly-like sticky blob shows up, there is a high chance that you go into labour within a few days. Some women might not even get to see this mucus plug. Sometimes, this plug comes out when the waters break.
Shivering is common during the last trimester of your pregnancy. Many women might think that they have caught a cold or are sick, but don’t worry, it is a sign of early labour. Shivering of the body also continues after birth. The body shivers when it is releasing tension, and this lasts for a few minutes only. If this is making you feel uncomfortable, you can take a hot bath, get a massage, or simply involve in a deep breathing exercise.
During the last weeks of your pregnancy, the baby moves closer to your pelvis, in order to prepare for birth. This relieves pressure from your diaphragm, allowing you to breathe easily. You will also begin to feel lighter in the chest and upper abdomen area. However, the baby’s position puts more pressure on your bladder, which results in more visits to the bathroom. This change in the position of the baby also makes your bump appear different, which can easily be identified.
When you are in your last stages of labour, your body releases prostaglandin, which is a chemical that stimulates the bowel movements. Therefore, your bowels open more frequently, resulting in diarrhoea. This is a part of labour and occurs because your body is making way for the baby. Some women also pass stool during their labour, but your bowels are usually emptied before it. Although this might seem like an embarrassing topic, you should not hesitate to discuss it with your midwife.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
When you are close to labour, you might notice Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions occur mostly throughout pregnancy, but are more intense during the pre-labour period. These contractions cause the uterus muscles to tighten. Some midwives refer to women feeling the symptoms of Braxton Hicks to be in ‘false labour’. Contractions are not always an indicator of labour. Sometimes you might feel them due to the changes in your cervix. In situations like these, you can visit your midwife, who will perform a vaginal exam to find out whether you are in early labour or not.
Keep Calm during Early Labour
Sometimes, the signs of early labour might scare you, but it is important to keep your cool and try to relax yourself. Your midwife will usually guide you through the whole process and will also tell you about the false alarms. You should also avoid rushing to the hospital every time you notice one of these signs.
When your contractions become painful or last for a longer time, it might mean that you are in labour. Even when you are in labour, do not panic and stay composed. Some women don’t get painful contraction, but if you do, then try to distract yourself by getting involved in other things like talking to your friends, etc.
It is important for every pregnant woman to be aware of their body and know about the signs of labour. It is always better to be in touch with your midwife and keep her updated on your condition. When your midwife gives you the green signal, you can head to the hospital, where you can begin preparing to welcome your baby into the world.