Last month of Pregnancy
Signs of Labor
There are always four main times to consider going to the hospital, if that is your desired location to give birth. Otherwise call your birth doula and or midwife.
First: any heavy bleeding, enough to fill a kotex pad in a few hours. Especially if you have been told by your doctor or midwife your placenta is in front of the baby. If you don't know where your placenta is; ASK. If your doctor says "Don't worry about it, that's my job", change your doctor. Any person in the health field that is not willing to help you learn about your health, is keeping YOUR health information unavailable to you. Any spots of blood on the toilet paper after voiding, sex, heavy lifting is usually not a problem. Yes, sex is appropriate while pregnant, unless you have a placenta or preterm problem. That can be another whole topic.
Second: The baby is not moving, eat or drink something cold, lie on your side and count baby movements. Imagine someone putting an ice cube down your back how much would you move. Three times in 30 minutes is fine. Babies may have sleep cycles, and move less, but there should always be movement. Healthy babies are active babies, sick babies move less, dead babies don't move at all. If some hours have passed with no movement, in spite of the cold drink attempts, call your doctor or midwife or go to the hospital and get checked.
Third: Your water breaks, an uncontrollable gush of water from the vagina. Check what color it is, you want clear fluid. It has a distinct odor, which I'm not going to try and describe. If it is yellowish or greenish, your baby has had a bowel movement already and is floating in a bag of his or her poop. If it gets swallowed or inhaled before the birth there is a possibility of complications. The person delivering the baby needs to clean the nose and mouth before the first breath to aid in preventing some of the complications. If you find in the course of the day, or night you have constantly wet panties, dripping a little but not a gush, you may have a small leak in your bag of water. Smell the fluid. Important, smell the fluid. If it smells like urine, don't worry about it. It is common during the last month, as the baby kicks, some urine may be pushed out. Just use a panty liner. If the odor is not urine, time to call your doctor or midwife.Take one of the pantiliners full of fluid to the hospital so the staff can check the fluid under a microscope to confirm or rule out what the fluid is. If the fluid is pinkish, reddish, blood tinged there may be bleeding from the placenta.
Four: strong regular contractions, that do not go away when you walk and drink fluids. Early labor may last a few days, you time contractions, you walk and drink, they stop. Great, your body is preparing for active labor. Continue the cycle. Drink adequately to prevent thirst and eat lightly, generally avoiding greasy and very spicy food. Labour is hard work for the body, for hard work you need energy, you get energy by eating nutritious food in small amounts. The stomach is not digesting large meals during labor, the body's focus is on the birth, not digestion. Eat a yougart, hard boiled egg, toast, small bowl of cereal, salad, piece of fruit, easily digested items. With timing the contractions, your partner writes the time you feel it begin, and how many seconds it lasts. You are looking for ranges of times. They may be 10 to 14 minutes apart for a few days. Most doctors recommend arriving at the hospital when they are 3 to 5 minutes apart, for a few hours, and you have trouble carrying on a conversation. The exception being if you are preterm. Any regular contractions you can count in a few hours, go to the hospital.
I hope this helps, relaxation and breathing will be another topic.
Help at home with the baby
Who do you turn to those first days at home with the newborn, learning to swaddle, change diapers, breastfeed?? Call for a postpartum doula. Goggle DONA and or CAPPA, search by your zip code, and find someone experienced to help you with all aspects of newborn care. These women have to attend training classes be certified by these national organizations and be mentored until they pass muster.