You have been anticipating this day for many months, but now you are scared. The joy associated with the coming baby merges with worries about and the pain of childbirth, leading to a jumble of mixed emotions. On top of that, you have a plethora of questions, such as ‘When will you go into labor?”, “Will it hurt?”, and “When should you go to the hospital?” Here is a list of 10 symptoms and signs that labor is near.
1. A baby drop feeling: This does not mean that your baby is about to fall onto the floor. Rather, it’s a sensation of the fetus advancing, head-first, toward the birth canal, and it happens usually about a week or two before labor begins, so it is not an emergency.
2. The cervix dilates: Some time after the fetus has descended, your cervix begins dilating which means opening up and thinning out. During a checkup, your obstetrician will insert a hand through the vagina to measure the presence and extent of cervical dilatation.
3. More cramps and backache: Certainly, back pain and cramps go with the territory when you are pregnant, but toward the end they increase. You may feel pain in the lower back, groin, and joints and, as your center of gravity moves downward, pain radiates throughout the lower body.
4. Joints may feel loose: Because ligaments soften during late pregnancy, your joints may feel looser than usual labor approaches. This is an evolutionary adaptation that helps the fetus make its way through the birth canal.
5. Loose stools: You could have diarrhea and excessive peeing. You may have irregular bowel movements.
6. No more weight gain: Stabilization of your weight is another sign that labor is approaching, for it means that the fetus is big enough to begin its journey out of the womb. If you follow your doctor’s instructions, you stand a good chance at stopping the weight gain that goes a long with pregnancy, and you can anticipate moving back toward your pre-pregnancy weight.
7. Fatigue: As labor approaches, you will feel extra tired. At the same time, your bladder will be extra-active, so you’ll feel frequent urges to urinate.
8. Vaginal discharge: This can happen throughout pregnancy but as labor approaches you may experience an increasing thick discharge.
9. Contractions: Long before you’re ready to give birth, you may experience what are called Braxton Hicks contractions, sometimes called ‘false labor’. But near the end of pregnancy, the onset of real contractions will feel like a pinch in your muscles and tightening of the uterus. You will feel push-and-pull actions inside your body that will start and stop. But as labor advances, the time gap between these contractions will decrease, until they are constant as you are giving birth. In the event that your obstetrician decides to deliver your baby surgically, you will be given a drug to stop the contractions. Otherwise, they will propel the fetus through the birth canal.
10. Water break: Finally, your water may break at home, on the way to the hospital, or after you arrive in the delivery room. In the event that it does happen at home, it is time to go to the hospital, and go directly. At this late point in pregnancy, somebody who can drive you to the hospital should always be around the house.