How do you know you are really in labour? The short answer is: you hardly ever do.
Even some mothers who have gone through childbirth may find it difficult to tell when labor first starts. Since there are many signs which are often misinterpreted as the labor itself, some pregnant women usually find themselves at the hospital earlier than their expected due date.
To help you figure out if your bundle of joy is wanting to come out and see the world, some common signs are listed below:
When your amniotic fluid breaks
According to Carol J. Grabowski, chief of staff of the women’s division at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in California, once the sac has broken it usually means that labor is about to happen. Over 80 percent of women are in labor within 12 hours after their water breaks. If this happens, make sure you have packed everything you’ll need: a nightgown or two, a bathrobe, slippers, and socks. Hospitals provide gowns and socks for you to use during labor and afterward, but some women prefer to wear their own. According to Julia Mercer, a technical manager for maternity lingerie, choosing comfortable maternity gown is important. “One of the things that is important is as soon as you found out that you are pregnant is to go along and find the right fitting maternity garments,” she said on the M&S‘ video channel. It is better to prepare and pack these things before your water breaks.
Excessive vaginal fluid
An article from Mayo Clinic explained that between 37 and 40 weeks of pregnancy, light spotting usually happens. This, the article elaborated, “could be a sign that labor is starting. Vaginal discharge that is pink or bloody is known as the bloody show. If vaginal bleeding is as heavy as a normal menstrual period, however, contact your health care provider immediately. Heavy vaginal bleeding could be a sign of a problem.”
Strong and frequent contractions
More often than not, contractions are mild and generally do not mark the beginning of childbirth. These early contractions are called Braxton Hicks contractions. An article from BabyMed described that “contractions after 37 weeks of pregnancy are normal, but if they happen before 37 weeks, more than 3 weeks before your due date, then you should immediately call your doctor because they may signal premature labor.”
“Normally, a baby descends the birth canal with its face pressed against the mom’s spine,” said Kay Johnson, a certified nurse-midwife. She further added that “in some cases the baby descends with its skull hitting the mom’s spine. Constant discomfort that may radiate to the abdomen but is mostly concentrated in the back.”