The third trimester of pregnancy is a wondrous and exciting time, but it can also be a bit scary if you do not know what to expect during labour and delivery. Like most first time mothers, you may be worried about going through labour and giving birth. The best way to ease your fear is to become well informed on the topic. It helps to know what to expect so that you can stop worrying, simply relax, and enjoy the process. Your confidence will increase as you learn about the common labour signs. Labour and delivery is unique to each woman, so if your mother or sister had a difficult time giving birth, it does not mean that you will too.
One common misconception is that women suddenly double over in pain when they go into labour. Many television shows and movies feature women going into labour and having to be rushed to the hospital in time to give birth. In reality, the birthing process is much more complex than the stereotypical labour that is featured on TV and in the movies. Although certain women do experience heavy contractions right away, as a new mother it is highly unlikely to happen to you. The majority of women begin experiencing a variety of different symptoms when they go into labour, and have plenty of time to travel to the hospital or contact their midwife.
Labour Signs That Occur before Contractions Start
A few weeks before your contractions begin the baby will drop down into a lower position. After your baby drops, you will probably feel pressure in your pelvic area. The pressure will likely cause you to feel the urge to urinate frequently, and you may start making many more trips to the bathroom each day. Like most women, you will probably begin dilating before you start to have painful contractions. One sign to watch out for is the passing of the mucus plug. You may notice a bloody vaginal discharge that is somewhat pink, red or brown in appearance. This discharge is the mucus plug, which has been dislodged and the event is another sign that contractions will soon begin. Although the mucus plug can pass up to two weeks before contractions begin, labour often occurs within a few days after the discharge is noticed.
What to Expect When Labor Begins
During the early phase of labour, the uterus begins to contract. The cervix will become soft and pliable as your body prepares itself for delivery. You may begin to feel lightheaded or nauseous once your contractions intensify. Walking around the house or having a relaxing, warm bath is a fantastic way to reduce anxiety and discomfort.
In most cases, contractions will gradually increase in intensity. Once your contractions are four minutes apart or less, or your contractions are lasting sixty seconds or longer, it is time to head to the hospital. You should also head to the hospital if your water breaks. Water breaking is one of the most well known labour signs and it can happen at any time before or during contractions. If you have any medical problems or you have had a difficult pregnancy, you should head to the hospital as soon as your water breaks or your contractions begin.
What a Contraction Feels Like
During a contraction, you may feel pressure or a tugging sensation in the abdomen or pelvic region. You may also experience intense lower back pain during contractions. Some women compare contractions to the feeling of intense menstrual cramping. Once contractions become painful, you may choose to have an epidural or some other form of pain relief. It is important to ask the nursing staff or doctor for pain relief medication before the final stage of labour begins. As the contractions become closer together, the pain becomes much more intense. Deep breathing and relaxation techniques will help to get your mind off the pain and keep your body relaxed. Contractions will continue until you feel the urge to push and the delivery of your baby begins. Once the baby arrives, you will forget about any pain and discomfort you felt during labour and begin enjoying motherhood.