You are finally close to the long-awaited moment for the entire time you’ve been pregnant: seeing your baby, but … what symptoms indicate that delivery is approaching?
CHANGES IN THE BODY AS LABOR APPROACHES
Your own body will make you aware that the delivery is about to arrive even a month before it, since that is when it begins to prepare for the arrival of the baby: the delivery . The level of hormones increases, widening the cervix and causing contractions weeks before delivery.
However, there are women who may not feel anything until moments before delivery. This alteration in hormones can cause some women to feel cold, shaky, or weak .
YOUR OWN BODY WILL GIVE YOU SIGNALS THROUGH WHICH YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE ALREADY IN LABOR
SYMPTOMS THAT INDICATE LABOR IS APPROACHING
The most common symptoms in the weeks leading up to delivery are usually:
– Relief of pressure on your rib cage, since the baby has begun to descend (what is commonly known as “wedging”). You will be able to breathe better because the baby will have descended towards your pelvis, fitting in for the future delivery.
– First contractions . They are rhythmic and painful getting stronger and stronger as the time of delivery approaches. It is the tension of the vertical walls of the uterus that produces the pain and the upper part of it, with its muscles, that push the baby down. During this stage some women suffer the same pain as during the menstrual cycle . As the uterus progressively dilates, these contraction pains can generate what we call “false labor”, because the body is not yet ready for true labor even though it is giving us these signals.
– After this tension due to the contractions in the cervix, it begins to soften . If it is your first pregnancy, this process does not imply that it is time to give birth . However, if you have already had another delivery before, your cervix can dilate between a centimeter or two before delivery. As the due date is near, your gynecologist will examine your cervix to see if there has been any significant change that indicates the right time for delivery.
– Expulsion of the mucous plug . When the uterus is dilating at the time of delivery, you may feel a mucous substance (a small amount of discharge) being expelled. This plug has been responsible for protecting your baby by sealing the cervix from external agents during the nine months of pregnancy, before giving birth.
IF YOU HAVE EXPELLED THE MUCOUS PLUG, YOU SHOULD GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW
– Some women suffer from diarrhea , since chemicals called prostaglandins are released just before delivery and can have this effect on the mother.
SYMPTOMS THAT INDICATE LABOR HAS BEGUN
Since Braxton Hicks contractions occur weeks before the actual delivery, it is not always easy to determine when it really is time to deliver. However, once the mucous plug has been lost and the first compulsions begin, it is advisable to go to the doctor .
The gynecologist or midwife will check the dilation of the cervix , in order to know if the labor has really started. After the water breaks, the contractions will become less dilated over time and will be more intense and painful. It is at that moment that the delivery is about to occur.
FALSE SYMPTOMS OF CHILDBIRTH
Unfortunately, on some occasions, and especially in first-time mothers, the symptoms that the pregnant woman is suffering are not due to childbirth but, even though they are very similar to real childbirth, they are false. Some clues for the pregnant woman to determine if these labor symptoms are false are the following:
– Contractions do not increase as time goes by nor are they more painful.
– If the contractions slow down or disappear if the mother changes position or walks for a while.
– If the pain occurs below the abdomen instead of in the lower back.
– If the fetus moves at the same time that the contractions occur . This is an indicator of possible suffering of the fetus, since its movements may intensify with contractions, but it does not mean that it is really the moment of delivery.
– Loss of fluids or snotty substances . They could be the result of sexual intercourse or a gynecological exam performed even 48 hours before and do not always mean the true moment of delivery. However, if what is lost is blood of an intense red color, a medical consultation should be sought immediately.
IF THE CONTRACTIONS DO NOT INCREASE, IN TIME OR PAIN, IT IS A FALSE ALARM
WHEN TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL (EVEN IF IT IS NOT THE TIME OF DELIVERY)
If your pregnancy or delivery presents any type of risk, surely your doctor or midwife will recommend that you go to the hospital earlier than normal . In a labor without complications, it is recommended to go to the hospital when the contractions are every five minutes in the last hour and last one minute each. You should also go to the hospital if the amniotic fluid bag has ruptured , that is, you suspect that your waters have broken, the best known indicator of childbirth.
If you bleed profusely or if the color of the expelled fluid has a green or yellowish hue, which may mean that it contains remains of the baby’s stool, it may mean that the baby is possibly suffering and may cause problems during delivery. If you have a fever, a severe headache, or severe abdominal pain, you should also go to the hospital without delay . Even if you are in the 37th week of pregnancy and you have the feeling that it may be a premature delivery.
You should not worry about showing up to the hospital even if it is not the true symptoms of actual labor, as doctors and midwives are there to inform and advise you too. It is better that you are well informed and have no doubts, for your health and that of your baby and so that everything goes as well as possible at the time of delivery.