How do you know when your body is ready for labor? Is there a definite sign that helps you confirm that your baby is ready to come out?
Pregnant women get excited when they are closer to their due date. The wait is finally over and they will soon get to see and hold their baby in their arms. But many false alarms occur before the D-day. And if this is your first time being pregnant, it’s hard to understand if you are having contractions or if it’s just gas? Remember how Phoebe from ‘Friends’ had a similar mishap closer to her due date? Were you aware that your body also starts preparing in a few ways before you go into labor? Here’s how:
1. You May Experience Braxton Hicks Contractions
Also known as false labor, these contractions can occur during the second trimester as well (1). Unlike the normal contractions, they do not get intense over time and aren’t as painful as labor contractions. However, it is also a sign that your uterus is preparing itself for birth. These contractions do not occur at regular intervals and may suddenly disappear after a while. Some factors such as dehydration, sexual encounter, increased activity of the mother can trigger these contractions.
2. The Position Of The Baby May Change
Your baby may move further down your pelvis when you approach your labor (2). The baby’s head will also move down to the pelvis. This change in the position of the baby is known as lightening. It may occur two weeks before the onset of labor. But there are cases where lightening doesn’t occur at all. When lightening occurs, the mother may experience more pressure in the bladder. This pressure may also lead to the urge to pee more frequently. Lightening provides relief for many pregnant women as it helps them breathe better as the pressure on the diaphragm reduces.
3. The Mucus Plug May Get Expelled
The opening of your cervix is blocked by a mucus plug (3). This mucus is produced by the cervical gland to keep the cervix closed when pregnant. It also helps in preventing infections. When the baby’s head puts pressure on the cervix, the mucus plug may come out from the vaginal opening. You may also see a small amount of blood along with it. This passage of mucus may occur a few days before labor or after the onset of labor.
4. Your Water May Break
Your baby is protected by a fluid-filled membrane called amniotic sac (4). This membranous sac will rupture when you are close to labor or during labor. This is known as water breaking. How to identify it? You may notice a gush of clear or pale yellow fluid from your vaginal opening. However, it is difficult to sometimes understand if it’s your water breaking or if you have wet yourself. If you are uncertain your water has broken, contact your doctor right away. Your doctor will examine you and determine if there’s a leakage from the amniotic sac. An ultrasound is also done in some cases to check the volume of the amniotic fluid. There are cases where the water doesn’t break even if you are in the stage of active labor, and the doctor has to perform an amniotomy to break the water.
You may not experience all the signs that are listed above. Each pregnancy is different from the other. Some women may experience Braxton Hicks contractions while others may not. There are cases where your water may not break at all when you are in labor. But knowing these signs will help you to identify the signs and head to the hospital right away or check with your doctor. But if you are experiencing painful contractions that gets intensified over time, it’s time to head to the hospital and get pushing!