Labour, the event every pregnant woman is waiting for. It’s the time after nine months for your little one to finally come out to the world. However, with all the excitement that is felt during labour pain comes along with it.
Just like any phenomena happening, labour comes with different symptoms depending on the various pregnancy cases. With that, labour comes with different signs as well and with different phases. The first phase is called the latent phase. This phase is commonly known as the pre-labour or early labour phase which occurs around one hour to a full month or more before labour. There are several phases of which one can know they are already experiencing the pre-labour stage:
- Back Pains and Cramps. Back pains are often felt when pregnant. However, when a pregnant woman’s due date is getting nearer and nearer, the frequency of back pains felt will noticeably increase. Aside from back pains, cramps will also be felt more. In most cases, the increase in back pains and cramps happen when it is not the first time of you getting pregnant. As the labour nears, pain will be felt more commonly on the lower back and groin. This happens because your muscles and joints are stretching and shifting as a preparation to your giving of birth.
- Contraction or Tightening. Contractions are the sensation you feel when your womb tightens and then relaxes. The intensity of pain when a contraction occurs depends on a pregnant woman’s ability to handle pain. It could be extreme or not-so-extreme pain. Contractions are often experienced during pregnancy, most especially towards the near of your due date. One can say the labour is nearing when the contractions or tightenings are painful in an irregular strength and frequency and may sometimes stop and start.
- Broken Waters. In most cases, the water may break during labour but there are actually times where it happens in the pre-labour phase. The water bag, as it is called, is actually a bag with a fluid called amniotic sac which is formed when your unborn baby develops and grows inside you. By the time your baby wants to come out of your womb, the sac breaks and the amniotic fluid flows out of your vagina, thus the water flowing out. The amniotic fluid has a clear and pale straw colour and may be hard to differentiate with urine. If the waters break, the fluid that comes out could have a little amount of blood with it. Nevertheless, the breaking of water bag can be anticipated when you feel a slow tickle or a sudden gush of water that cannot be controlled.
- Bloody Show. A show is an indication of your cervix opening however not all pregnant women experience a show before labour. This show is the passing out of a plug of mucus in the cervix. This plug comes away just before the labour starts, thus in the latent phase. This mucus is a jelly-like and is pink in colour which is caused by blood, thus the term bloody show. Yes, it is bloodstained, but nothing to worry about, a discharge of a little blood is normal when you are about to labour and if you are losing a lot more blood, then it is a sign that there is something wrong. Immediately call for your doctor, and rush to the hospital.
- Loose Bowels. Loose bowel movements, LBM, diarrhoea, or whatever it is termed, is an annoying experience and yet when you are about to labour, this thing often happens. As your body muscles prepare for your giving of birth, so too are other muscles in your body as well as your rectum. With that, diarrhoea may occur and nothing to worry about since it is definitely a sign that your little one is about to come out. Just always remember to stay hydrated.
- Mood Swings. As normal as this may sound to other girls, sudden mood changes is also a sign that your labour is about to come. Different emotions like being excited, restless, anxious, or impatient may be felt during these times. This is not as reliable as other signs, but this is also observed during pre-labour stage.
- This sign is about your baby dropping. This is termed as baby dropping because the baby inside you will actually start to drop or descend into your pelvis just few weeks before the labour actually starts. This could be around two to four weeks before but may vary depending on the one experiencing it. In most cases, lightening does not often happen until you are exactly in labour because with this, the baby is preparing himself to come out of your womb.
- Cervix Dilation. Aside from the body muscles, your cervix too is preparing for the coming out of your little one. The cervix starts to dilate or open and efface or thin out few days or weeks before you deliver. You could notice the dilation and effacement being tracked during your check-ups. There are times where one dilates slowly but don’t be discouraged at all since everyone has different progress speed.
- Stopped Gaining Weight. As you would notice, your weight increases rapidly when you are pregnant. When you are about to labour, the weight gain reduces and some mothers-to-be often lose several pounds but there is nothing to worry about since this will not affect your baby at all. The weight loss is due to the reduced levels of amniotic fluid, more bathroom breaks, and increased in physical activity.
- Loose Joints. When you are pregnant, a presence of a hormone called relaxin will make the ligaments of your body loosen up a little which result to a noticeable clumsiness especially in your last trimester. Before labour, the joints in your body will gradually become more relaxed and a less tight.
- Disrupted Sleep. When your pregnancy is about to come to an end, a change in sleep pattern could be observed. Your goodnight sleep could turn into nightmares when your peaceful sleep is disturbed or disrupted. Unlike when you are at the first trimester of your pregnancy, being sleepy becomes a constant feeling.
- Less Movements of the Baby. In the middle of your pregnancy, there is a certain time where the baby is active that it keeps on moving inside of you. This is because as time of your labour starts to come near, the baby inside of you will rest for longer period of times.
One may be able to tell they are about to labour especially when they are at the end of their pregnancy. The weekly check-ups often help you in determining whether your labour date is getting nearer. However, there are cases that the labour may come early or later than expected. When this happens, immediately seek for medical help by calling the hospital, your doctor, or your midwife, or directly rush to the hospital. A presence of a complication might be there and could possibly harm you and in the worst case, your little one.