You have been counting the days for almost 40 weeks with such a precision that it is only fair for you to recognize the signs when the day has finally come!
The big day is coming
The anxiety of a future mother thinking about giving birth is normal and healthy. You must learn to gather your strength and focus your energy by getting ready. The more you know, the more you will be able to tell the difference between false contractions and real labor.
You are possibly between your 35th and 37th weeks of pregnancy. You can’t say why but you are feeling different. You are as tired as you were in the first trimester and your legs are heavy and swollen by mid-day. You are more sensitive and the most trivial things can make you cry. The next day, you have enough energy to clean up the whole house, do your floors by hand and move the crib one last time. You can’t read any of this in medicine books but many women who had one or more children will tell you. Ask your mothers and grandmothers! This feeling of being different for no reason often means that your baby will soon be here. If you would like to have a romantic dinner or to make an appointment at the hairdresser to feel better and more beautiful, do so now because when your baby will be here, you won’t get the chance to do it as much.
The big day is coming soon, it will happen today, tomorrow or next week. Here are the main signs to look for if you want to know when you should go to the hospital. Don’t worry; you will have plenty of time to get there! The time required to give birth varies and each pregnancy is unique. Whether it is your first or third child, you can think of your pregnancy and your previous scenarios to give you hints but in general, it takes between 6 and 12 hours to reach complete cervical dilation and delivery. For a second baby, this time may be reduced by 6 to 8 hours and it may be even faster in the following pregnancies.
In the past weeks, you probably felt a few contractions caused by the work of your uterus. They feel like a sharp pain that radiates from your back to your belly or vice versa. At the peak of the contraction, your belly will become rock hard.
f you want to really feel your contractions and to time them to see if they are getting regular, you must not panic. Real contractions announcing the beginning of labor must become more frequent, longer and stronger. Ask your partner to help you time your contractions.
The important thing is to get comfortable, ideally in your comfy home. Keep in mind that the labor begins at home and the longer you stay there, the quicker it will be in hospital. You can use pillows and cushions. Walking in place also helps you tolerate the pain. A reasonable bath or hot showers also have benefits but you must be sure that your water didn’t break.
Contractions slowly efface your cervix until it is completely effaced and dilated. The cervix generally gets effaced at a rate of 1 cm per hour until it reached 6 cm. Once the contractions are regular, strong and you are dilated at 4 or 5 cm, doctors consider that you officially began labor. Most of the time, the rest of the dilation progresses much more quickly. At this moment, you will head straight to the birthing or delivery room.
Passing of the mucus plug and water breaking
The mucus or mucous plug is made of thick mucous secreted by the cervix during pregnancy. You can pass all at once or little by little this yellowy and sticky jelly that may be blood stained (that’s why it is also called a “bloody show”). It is the mucus plug that prevents any bacteria from getting in your uterus. Very often, before your water breaks, the plug is pushed towards your vagina or falls in the toilet. This phenomenon is harmless and doesn’t necessarily announce your labor. It may even go unnoticed.
When your amniotic sac ruptures, you will loose a colorless, warm and odourless liquid. By then, your cervix will be dilated between 2 and 5 cm. Once the water breaks, it is time to go to your delivery room, even if your contractions are not regular. Wear a maxi pad to absorb the liquid that may keep flowing when you or your baby move. Don’t be afraid that your baby lacks liquid and dries; the amniotic liquid he is in replenishes itself and is sufficient for your baby until he will be born.