Am I about to go into Labor?
I'm so tired now.
You aren't sleeping well at night because you're constantly getting up to go to the restroom. Not to mention, you're in pain from the increasing growth of the human being taking over your abdomen. And, well, pregnancy is tiresome as a whole. You're just plain exhausted now. Completely normal! Try to get as much rest as possible because once baby gets here, you've essentially erased the word "sleep" from your vocabulary!
My baby has dropped!
Usually occurring a few weeks before your impending labor, your baby will begin the descent into your pelvis. What this means is that your baby is preparing for his/her arrival! So, how do you know if your baby is beginning the "lightening" process? Or has already officially dropped? Here's how:
- You're back to constantly going to the bathroom - Baby's head is now very low and pushing very hard on your bladder as well which will up your urge to potty! (potty - get used to using this word a lot for it's about to become a huge part of your vocabulary!)
- You're walking like a penguin - Baby's head is now deep down into your pelvis and you're now doing the "I'm about to poop a baby" waddle.
- You can finally breathe - Your little one has been pushing on your ribs so much recently. With the baby dropping, the pressure on your lungs will ease also which will make breathing much easier.
- You're feeling a lot of pressure down there - It's beginning to feel like baby is going to essentially "fall out" of you. Totally normal!
- You're having sharp pains down there also - This is normal and yes, it does hurt. It's caused by the pressure on nerves and stretching that's occurring.
My doctor said I'm dilated and/or effaced.
When baby starts dropping down, this puts a lot of pressure on your cervix which will essentially cause it to thin out and stretch open ... AKA effacing and dilating. Even if baby has dropped and you're still not progressing at all, don't be discouraged.
Did I just lose my mucous plug?
The mucous plug - normally when the cervix opens up, the "cork" of the cervix will come out. This is known as the mucous plug. Some people lose it all at once (and you'll know it, trust me, it's disgusting) and others will lose a little bit at a time. If you haven't lost any plug whatsoever, don't worry! You just might have not noticed it is all!
Are you planning on getting an epidural?
Why am I bleeding?
The bloody show - This usually occurs 24-48 hours before delivery. Your cervix is stretching more and more in order to stretch far enough to deliver the baby. When it stretches like this, the capillaries in your skin will begin to rupture so you'll more than like see small amounts of pink or red blood.
I'm having a lot of cramps and/or back pain.
As your baby moves further down, the pressure will become more severe. As a result, your muscles will begin to work themselves out naturally which means you're going to be feeling it too. They'll be stretching and shifting preparing for the birth which will cause lower back pain and groin pain as well.
Understanding Labor Pain
I'm having a lot of diarrhea!
Your muscles will begin to relax and as a result, your bowel muscles will relax too. Completely normal to have the green apple splatters day in and day out at this point. Also, our bodies have a natural way of cleansing itself. You're going to be pushing so hard, so your body is telling itself to get all the other yucky stuff out. Gross, I know. Just make sure to keep yourself hydrated!
My joints feel so loose!
Relaxin - this is the hormone that is released in the end of pregnancy to loosen everything up so your bones won't break during labor. This is also the blame for you tripping and falling all over everything recently! Your pelvis especially will begin to feel much more loose. Don't worry. This is just your body preparing to get the baby out!
The difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and the REAL ones.
- They stop when you change positions - If you're contracting while laying down and you decide to stand up and walk around, your Braxton Hicks should stop.
- They usually aren't painful - Usually they just feel like your stomach is tightening up without any pain.
- They stop and start randomly - You might have a few and then they stop. They may come back even stronger but then they stop again. These are not normal contractions.
- They don't get worse - If relaxing, breathing, walking, sitting, changing positions, or a warm bath gets them to ease up, they're BH. As long as they aren't getting rhythmically closer together and stronger, you have nothing to worry about.
Real Labor Contractions
- They get on a schedule - You begin to have one every hour, 30 minutes, or few minutes on the dot. They've become a routine now.
- They're getting more painful - If it's really starting to hurt, try some techniques to see if they will stop. If they don't stop, they're real.
- They don't stop after techniques - You've tried walking, relaxing, or taking a warm bath. You've tried resting, too. Nothing is easing the pain and/or the frequency of them.
When do I call my healthcare provider?
If you're over 37 weeks and your contractions are becoming more painful and they won't ease up, you can give them a call. If you're under 37 weeks, still give them a call and find out what they want you to do because you could be in pre-term labor.
- The contractions are about 5 minutes apart and last up to 60 seconds for each contraction for an hour.
- Or - you're having more than 4 contractions an hour even if you think they're just Braxton Hicks contractions.
- Your water has broken.
- The pressure down below is so severe that you feel like the baby is about to come out (along with other symptoms)
- You all of a sudden have extreme back pain (along with other symptoms)
- Increase in discharge (along with other symptoms)
- Or when you're holding a newborn.
I think I might be in pre-term labor!
Don't panic. You will definitely need to call your healthcare provider at this point and get direct advice on what you need to do. They know your health history and can tell you exactly how to prevent yourself from having a premature child.
Relaxation Techniques for Labor
Wanting to go au naturale? Or maybe you're going into labor and trying to wait it out before you head to the hospital? No problem! These tips will help you relax!
- Massage - Having your partner massage a body part (your back, legs, head, etc.) will help take your mind off of the other pain.
- Focal point - Find a spot in the room and focus on it. Think about it's color, the shape, what it will do if you throw it against the wall. Ya know, focus focus focus on anything BUT the pain.
- Talking - If you have the patience, talking will help. During a contraction, have your partner or someone close to you tell you a funny memory between the two of you. Listening to someone's easy words will sometimes help with easing the pain and tension.
- Breathe - Inhale deeply, exhale deeply. While inhaling, imagine all the pain in your body being pulled into your lungs and as you exhale, you're blowing all of the pain out.
- Ice - Getting a mouth full of ice will help you to focus on chewing and avoiding a brain freeze!
- Music - You can try listening to soothing music. It will surely help to calm you. If you'd rather just focus more on the music, you can try something uplifting. Sing a little or headbang to some Metallica. Entirely up to you and your taste!
- A warm bath - Bubbles, to boot. The calming smells and warmness will surely help to ease the pain. You can also let the drain open and continue running warm water over your toes to give you something to pay attention to.
- Humming - This makes for a great and easy relaxation technique sometimes. Purse your lips together and hum during contractions. It will feel as though you're releasing tension by being able to be vocal and if you focus on the sounds you're making, it makes it an awesome way to take your mind off of what's happening.
One last thing...
Always call your healthcare provider if you have any questions. They're the ones that know your health the best so they'll be able to make the best educated decision for you.
© 2014 Ash Ryan