Congratulations to a soon-to-be mommy! Kudos to you for having pulled off such a challenging journey of 8+ months wonderfully well. Soon, you are going to bear the fruit of your patience!
As the countdown begins, the last few weeks of pregnancy can throw challenges by making you feel nervous, excited, anxious, and fatigued.
Of course, by now, you are so tired of being pregnant that time becomes relentless. There could be numerous niggling issues from sleepless nights, anxiety, back pain, leg and muscle pain, body swelling, and fear and anxiety of entering into labor.
A word of assurance here is, deliveries are not often as bad as they are made to sound. Though every mom-to-be has her journey, you can surely empower your journey by staying positive and courageous.
Though you cannot predict the actual day or hour of labor, you need to be watchful of signs that indicate that your labor has started.
What are the immediate signs of labor?
Though there are no well-defined indications of labor onset, the following symptoms like blood spots, diarrhea, lower back pain and cramps in the groin, water sac breaking, and dilation of the cervix are immediate signs of labor.
How do you feel 24 hours before labor?
- Water sac breaking: You may experience a gush of water or notice wetness in your underwear, which indicates water sac breaking. The water sac or the amniotic sac is filled with water where your baby grows and develops for nine months. When the delivery is nearing, the baby’s head pressurizes the wall of the water sac, rupturing it down.
Some women experience a trickle of water due to rupturing of the amniotic sac. This is an indication that labor is right around, and you must keep your bags ready.
2. Mucus secretion: Mucus plug is a protective covering at the opening of the cervix, which prevents bacteria from entering the uterus. When it’s time to deliver, the mucus plug loosens out on its own and drops out.
It would help if you were watchful of a drop of mucus glob in the toilet after using it, or you may notice it on their underwear or while wiping after urinating. The color of mucus may vary from being clear to pinkish in color. There could be traces of blood at times found in mucus.
Sometimes, you may notice fresh blood spotting on your underwear. Losing mucus is one of the signs that the body is getting prepared to deliver the baby. Though it’s possible to lose mucus weeks before labor, it usually happens hours before labor.
3. Drop-in weight: You may see a loss of 1 to 3 pounds just one or two days before going into labor. It is due to water loss that happens as amniotic fluid may reduce or water loss due to frequent urination.
Close to delivery, the baby descends to a lower position putting extra pressure on the bladder. So, you feel like urinating more.
4. Mother’s Instinct: Just before its time to deliver, the moms-to-be feel a sudden gush of energy and get on her toes to make her house spic-n-span clean to welcome the baby. When you feel overwhelmed and excited, you may end up rearranging the nursery over and over again to welcome your baby and may get obsessed with the hospital bag. These are the signs that labor is just around the corner.
5. Pain in the lower back: The joints and ligaments loosen up during labor due to hormonal secretion. Though body ache is a regular feature in a full-term pregnancy, yet this pre-labor back pain is different. Once started, the pain might worsen when the body goes into labor and may radiate to the pelvis area. The pain persists till delivery and can be a little challenging to handle.
6. Uterine Contractions: Your body may start contractions when it begins to enter labor, which may get more frequent and stronger with time. When the contractions start, they may happen every 5 minutes and may last longer than a minute. When this happens, you may have to check in to the hospital soon and should get in touch with your midwife or gynecologist.
Beware of false contractions which happen days before or weeks before labor. Your body is preparing for delivery, and in that process, this false alarm gets raised at times. These false contractions are short-lived and last only for a few seconds. These are also called Braxton Hicks Contractions. These contractions last only for 20 to 30 seconds and may subside on changing position. Moreover, these contractions are prominently felt only in the abdominal area.
7. Cervical dilation: Just when you are nearing your D-day, you will have to visit your doctor for weekly check-ups. The doctor will check your cervix to see if you have started dilating.
Dilation refers to the opening of the cervix from where the baby comes out in vaginal delivery. The cervix dilates for at least 10 centimeters for vaginal delivery, but cervical dilation of 2-3 cms indicates that the labor is 24 to 48 hours away.
8. Diarrhea: Towards the end of a pregnancy, the body releases more relaxin, which loosens your body muscles, joints, and ligaments. Due to this hormonal secretion, you may experience diarrhea. The muscles around the rectum, pelvis and lower back loosen up, indicating that labor is right there.
Your body is intelligently designed; it signals you as the labor approaches closer. It would be best if you watched for the signs mentioned above. Though it is not always possible to predict labor, looking out for these signs can lead you on the right track.
You might feel cramping in your lower back and groin area as labor approaches. The muscles and joints are getting prepared to deliver the baby leading to cramping.
10. Baby drops
The baby descends into your pelvis just a few weeks before labor. This is technically referred to as lightning when your baby gets into position with head down to exit. Though it leads to frequent urination, you eventually have a bigger room for breathing as your lungs get space to expand appropriately.
What is silent labor?
In women experiencing fast labor, sometimes the contractions happen so painlessly that they don’t realize they have entered the labor. They don’t realize that they are in labor until they enter the second stage of labor. This is when the women start pushing the baby and feel as if the baby has already descended. This is what a silent labor is all about but only a handful of fortunate women experience it.
Can you go into labor while sleeping?
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that most births in the US occur between 8 am and noon. This means that labor must have started during the night as the average time for active labor is 4 to 8 hours.
Often, women go into labor while sleeping as the body produces a hormone called melatonin, which makes you fall asleep and stay asleep. Melatonin acts in combination with oxytocin resulting in contractions. Consequently, you are much likely to go into labor while sleeping.