Is the baby coming or not? This is most likely on the mind of most women who are deep into their pregnancy-which can send your emotions and adrenaline into overdrive. Although there are some visible signs of the onset of labor, such as your water breaking, your body gives off many smaller signs, too, to hint labor.
With the tremendous amount of body changes, especially for first-time mothers, it's difficult to understand what all the movements and changes in your body are trying to tell you. In this blog, we're going to explore the 8 most common symptoms of oncoming labor.
Labor Signs vs. Braxton Hicks
Just a quick note about what Braxton Hicks is and how to help determine if that is what you are experiencing. If you're deeper into your pregnancy, then it is likely that you are already familiar with Braxton Hicks contractions, which commonly starts around 16 weeks into your pregnancy. Braxton Hicks contractions occur to help your body "practice for labor" and feel similar to the tightening of muscles across our belly. It is possible to feel your uterus becoming harder if you place your hand on your stomach during these contractions.
Real labor contractions grow stronger with each contraction, longer and occur closer together as you near labor. Braxton Hicks, on the other hand, last between 15-30 seconds (but can last up to 120 seconds) and are infrequent and irregular. The 5-1-1 Rule (outlined at the bottom of this blog) is one of the best methods to count a true contraction.
Now, let's take a look at the 8 most common symptoms of labor, starting with 'Lightening.'
1. The Downward Push:
Whoops, the baby going down? Do you feel like your baby is pushing downwards?
It's not something usual. It is actually an early symptom before labor begins.
If you're a first-time mom, your baby will typically start to drop, or descend into your pelvis, a few weeks before labor begins (usually around two to four weeks before, but it can vary). In subsequent births, this "lightening" doesn't often happen until you're truly in labor. Your baby is getting into a position to make his exit, ideally with the head down and low.
You might feel like you're waddling even more than you have been up until this point — and you may still be taking frequent bathroom breaks as you've probably been doing in the third trimester because the baby's head is now pushing down on your bladder. The good news is that you have a bit more breathing room since your little one is moving away from your lungs.
2. The Dilated Cervix:
Your body is preparing for birth, so is your cervix. It starts to dilate and gets thinner day by day as your delivery time is near. These days you must monitor your cervix and track the dilation through an internal exam. But don't worry if you are dilating slowly because everyone progresses differently.
3. Feeling Cramps?
One symptom before labor includes feeling cramps. If it's your first pregnancy, you might suffer from lower back and groin cramps and pain. This happens because your muscles and joints are stretching and preparing for birth.
4. Your Joints Feel Loose
One of the signs of labor approaching is your joints start to lose. This happens because, throughout your pregnancy, your hormones are fluctuating that loosen your ligaments. This process continues until your delivery time. It is nature's way to prepare your pelvis to make way for your baby to come to this world.
5. Frequent Diarrhea
You can suffer through diarrhea due to muscle relaxation in your uterus and rectum. This leads to diarrhea. This symptom may appear at other times in your pregnancy. Of Course, it is an unpleasant feeling, but it's just normal these days. Don't worry and keep yourself hydrated.
6. No More Weight Gain
Not gaining weight or losing some pounds can be a Symptom, before your labor begins. This is absolutely normal and won't affect your baby. Change in your weight is due to low levels of amniotic fluid and perhaps diarrhea.
7. Urge For Rest
During the last days of your pregnancy, you feel an urge to rest. This might be because you are suffering from diarrhea that exhausts you. Moreover, another reason can be frequent urination during the night that can make it tough for you to have a good night's sleep.
So, grab a pillow and try to take naps during the day this can help you relax. On the contrary, some moms might feel an energy burst. In this state, they can't resist the wish to clean and organize things every time.
8. Vaginal Discharge Changes
In the last days of your pregnancy, you might lose your mucus plug- the sealing of your uterus. It might come off in one large piece or several small ones that you won't even get a glimpse of. Near your delivery, your vaginal discharge becomes thick and changes its color to pink. This is a strong indication that your labor is very near.
How to Count Your Contractions Using the 5-1-1- Rule
Contractions are the most evident sign that you must rush to the hospital. But you need to recognize actual contraction from Braxton Hicks contractions.
Real contractions can be like menstrual cramps. You might also go through stomach upset, upper and lower abdominal pressure and pain. This pain can shift from the lower abdomen to the lower back or can travel into the legs.
The 5-1-1 Rule is also another way to calculate your contractions, which happen 5 minutes apart, occur for one minute and have been consistent for one hour.
- 5 minutes apart
- 1 minute of contractions
- 1 hour of the same pattern
Becoming a mother is a beautiful experience. But surely it is also tough when symptoms begin before labor begins. Keep yourself encouraged and make the entire journey worth; it is a challenge on its own. If you want to learn more about living with pregnancy, make sure to visit Abudo and take a course on Maternity.