As is the pregnancy, labor is different in every pregnant woman. When and how labor starts vary from woman to woman. Also, recognizing when you are in labor can be tricky.
Every pregnant woman is anxious for her little one to arrive and have all kinds of feelings and sensations. Your approaching labor will only add some more feelings. There are some signs that indicate your labor will start soon. And there are other signs that indicate your labor has started. Labor is a process that could take several hours to several days before you have your baby.
It is important for every pregnant woman to discuss labor and signs of labor with her doctor or OB/GYN early in pregnancy. This will help the woman to know more about labor and its signs. If you know what the early signs are, what the active labor is, and what the false labor is, you will be in a better position to take the right steps when labor begins.
The following are some signs that you might have before labor begins:
- You feel relieved and lighter in your rib cage. You experience this sign when the baby drops or moves down to the lower portion of your uterus. This is called “lightening” because you feel lighter after the baby moves lower.
- You start breathing easier because the baby isn’t putting pressure on your lungs.
- You may need to urinate more frequently because the baby presses down on the bladder after mover lower.
- Your heartburn relieves.
- You have increased vaginal discharge that is clear, pink, or slightly bloody. Thick mucus covers the opening of the cervix during your pregnancy. When the cervix begins to stretch in preparation for delivery, it pushes this mucus into the vagina.
You might experience one or more of the following signs when you are in labor:
Strong And Regular Contractions
The main sign of labor is a series of contractions. Contractions are tightening and relaxing of the uterus muscles to help the baby descend into the birth canal. These contractions occur regularly. Over time, they become stronger, last longer, and are more frequent. You may have strong and regular contractions every 5 to 10 minutes. If contractions occur for an hour, inform your doctor or OB/GYN right away.
If contractions are weak, irregular, or stop when you change positions, it is the sign of false labor.
If you are in true labor, the contractions feel like:
- Contractions tend to get stronger and occur at shorter intervals as time passes. You will feel these contractions at intervals of 5 to 10 minutes.
- Contractions are so strong that you can’t walk or talk during them.
- You feel pain in your lower back and your abdomen.
- Moving or changing positions doesn’t help relieve the pain.
The baby grows and develops in a fluid-filled bag called an amniotic sac. The amniotic sac breaks either at the beginning of or during labor. As a result, the fluid comes out of the vagina. This is called water breaking. It can be just a trickle or a large gush of fluid. Water breaking is a clear sign that labor is started. Sometimes, many pregnant women leak urine and this is mistaken for water breaking. It should be noted that amniotic fluid is clear, odorless, and might have slight yellow or pink tinge.
Increased Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge can increase several days before labor or just as labor begins. This discharge occurs as the cervix begins to open. This is called “show” or “the bloody show”. This discharge can be clear, pink, or slightly bloody. If the discharge contains large amounts of blood, call your doctor or OB/GYN right away.