How do you know if your baby is coming?
What are the labor symptoms that tell you if the baby is coming? As the big day approaches, you may be anxious to know exactly when labor will begin.
Although your gynecologist established a probable delivery date based on your last menstrual period, when a natural birth is planned it is unlikely to occur on the planned date, so it’s almost impossible to predict when you’ll give birth to your baby. Don’t worry!
Your body will send you some signs or symptoms of labor that will tell you that the time has come.
Each woman experiences labor symptoms in a unique and special way
Labor symptoms are easy to recognize most of the time.
However, each woman experiences them in a unique and special way. Just as there are women who are able to recognize from the first moment their labor has begun, there are others who find it difficult to identify the first signs or symptoms of labor, especially if they are newborns.
We know it’s impossible not to have any doubts about whether you’re really starting labor, whether it’s time to go to the hospital, or if it’s just a fake, so we’ll explain what labor symptoms you may experience as the day approaches.
If you feel them, you and your baby are probably close to seeing each other for the first time!
How do I know if I have started labor?
For sure, there is no way to know when the time will start labor, it’s just a matter of being attentive to the signals you sent your body, as it begins to prepare for the great arrival of your baby, even a month in advance.
You may notice some changes in your body as your due date approaches.
As your due date approaches, you may notice some changes in your body, but you may also not notice anything new.
Whatever your case, knowing the first symptoms of labor before they happen can help you prepare and feel very comfortable knowing it can wait.
Most women are able to identify the signals their bodies send.
What are the first symptoms of labor?
Labor begins the moment the dreaded contractions or labor pains begin to occur, which are usually rhythmic, progressive and increasingly intense, however not all contractions indicate that the birth of the baby is imminent.
There are contractions that can occur without being a real birth sign, but don’t worry! In addition to contractions, there are previous signs or symptoms of labor that can manifest weeks before or on the day of delivery as a clear indication that you are about to give birth.
Sometimes contractions can occur without being a sign of childbirth.
Prepartum symptoms are known as labor prodromes, and contrary to what many may think, they do not usually appear in the same order or with the same intensity in all pregnant women.
Here’s a list of all the pre-birth cues you can expect while you’re counting down to the big moment.
Lightening or embedding
Especially if it’s your first pregnancy, you may begin to experience a few weeks earlier the feeling that your baby’s head has dropped, that is to say that it has fitted into the lower pelvis, as a way to prepare for birth.
When the baby descends, you will notice that it is now easier for you to breathe and digest food, as the pressure in your rib cage has decreased, and it is also likely that you will feel the need to urinate more frequently.
It can happen several weeks or even a few hours before labor begins.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Contractions are certainly another clear indication that childbirth is approaching, however there is a type of contractions that can arise weeks before childbirth as a kind of training. Braxton Hicks contractions are those cramps that some women experience when the cervix prepares for delivery.
Braxton Hicks contractions occur when the cervix prepares for delivery.
Although they are training contractions, sometimes these can be relatively painful and frequent, so it might make you think of it as a symptom of labor. But if the contractions don’t increase in duration and intensity, and you don’t feel them closer together, you’re probably going through what’s called “false labor.
Not all contractions indicate that labor is imminent.
The cervix begins to change
An unmistakable sign that labor will begin or has begun is that the cervix begins to dilate, but before that happens it takes several days for changes in the tissue that connects the cervix to cause the cervix to soften and then thin and dilate.
In women who have previously given birth, the cervix may dilate at least one to two centimeters before labor begins, but this is not always a signal that childbirth is imminent.
To evaluate and track changes in the cervix, your gynecologist will begin examining you through a vaginal observation the days around your possible due date.
Expulsion of the mucous plug
When the cervix begins to dilate, the mucous plug, a set of vaginal secretions that may be clear, pink, or with certain blood streaks that have kept the cervix sealed throughout the pregnancy to protect the baby from infection, may become detached.
Although some women do not notice it, expulsion of the mucous plug can occur up to two weeks before labor begins, a few hours before, or even during labor. Remember that this reaction is not in itself a sufficient symptom to go to the hospital, but without a signal to stay alert.
Symptoms of labor that indicate labor has begun
The symptoms and sensations that indicate that labor is approaching correspond to a set of factors that occur between the mother and the baby, but there are only two main indicators that you will begin the process of childbirth
- Breaking the water fountain
You may unexpectedly feel a strange clear fluid coming out of your vagina, either suddenly or in the form of drops. The expulsion of this fluid is due to the rupture of the bag containing the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby during pregnancy, which is known to break fountains.
If you experience a ruptured water bag, you should call your doctor immediately, as in most cases this is a symptom of unmistakable labor. Right after the pouch is broken, you begin to experience regular contractions that can trigger labor quickly.
- Contractions increase in intensity and frequency
Although you may have already gone through an episode of contractions, when labor begins the contractions the abdomen hardens and triggers pain in the back and lower abdomen, increasing in intensity and frequency.
With the passing of the minutes, they become longer and do not yield to the change of posture as happens with the contractions of Braxton Hicks.
The mission of contractions is to open the cervix about 10 cm so that the baby can finish descending and go outside. These two symptoms unequivocally mark the onset of labor.
What happens if the water breaks but there are no contractions?
Women usually begin to experience regular contractions before breaking the water, but it is also possible that the breaking of the water may be the one that triggers the first contractions.
When contractions do not occur in the hours following the rupture of the bag of water, most likely they should induce labor, because having expelled all the amniotic fluid, your baby is unprotected and runs the risk of contracting any infection.
If this happens, your doctor may ask you to go to the hospital for antibiotic treatment.
Artificial mechanisms are in place to induce labour if necessary.
Symptoms of Labor How to tell the difference between a false birth and a true birth?
It is not always easy to identify exactly when we are experiencing a false labor, or when the “true” labor begins, because the Braxton Hicks contractions you have felt with the passing of days can be very similar to the first contractions of labor.
If the contractions decrease with a change of posture, it is probably a false alarm.
These contractions may even become more uncomfortable and close to each other, occurring every 10 to 20 minutes. But if the contractions of Braxton Hicks remain irregular and unpredictable, at intervals of about 10 minutes, then two minutes, eight minutes, and so on. They usually diminish or disappear with a change of posture, probably a false alarm.
When it comes to “true birth” the contractions are much more regular and follow a predictable pattern, for example every 7 minutes while reducing the time between each one.
Other signs of real labor are that contractions go through the following breakthroughs:
- They’re getting stronger and stronger.
- Gradually last longer
- They occur at regular time intervals.
- They’re increasing in frequency.
You can also easily identify them because each contraction begins to feel in the lower part of your back, moving forward just in the groin, whereas when it comes to Braxton Hicks pains, the pain usually manifests as a hardening in the abdominal part.
The most effective way to differentiate contractions is by measuring the duration and frequency with which they occur.
The most effective way to differentiate them is to measure the duration of each of your contractions. If they are true labor contractions, they may begin to feel every 10 minutes, but without decreasing in intensity or frequency, they will actually become more followed and painful. It is even possible that there is bleeding or the rupture of the bag of water, but that depends on each woman and each birth.
When to go to the hospital?
If this is your first time having a baby, you may feel anxious and full of worries, so don’t be embarrassed to call your doctor if you suspect the time of delivery has arrived, because no one better than your gynecologist to confirm whether it’s a false alarm or that you’re actually going to give birth soon.
Be sure to call your doctor if you experience these symptoms
Depending on your case you will receive specific indications, but if your pregnancy has not registered complications so far, we recommend that you pay attention to the symptoms so that you can be sure to call your doctor or go directly to the hospital:
- If the fountain breaks, you should undoubtedly call your doctor and go to the hospital, but if the fluid has a greenish-yellow or brown tone, you should tell the doctor as soon as possible, as it is likely that there is meconium (the baby’s first stool) and the little one is at risk.
- If you feel contractions before 37 weeks: Contractions are a clear symptom of labor, but if they occur early it is likely to be premature labor, so you should see your doctor to make sure everything is okay.
- You note that the baby is less active than usual.
- You experience vaginal bleeding, severe and constant pain, or even fever.
- If the contractions do not give way to rest, they last one minute each and occur every 5 minutes, in addition to having a regular rhythm for more than half an hour.
- You have persistent headaches, vision problems, severe pain or discomfort in the top of your belly, swelling, or any other symptom of preeclampsia.
Although labor symptoms are common signs that labor is about to begin, every woman is different and there is no specific guide to help you know all the situations you’ll experience while you’re awaiting delivery.
So don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you’re worried or suspicious, no one better than them to help you and point out that everything is okay.
Don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you feel worried or have any questions.