As well, no two labours are alike. What your mother, sister, or friend experienced will not be exactly like what you will experience. However, nature has its way of communicating to you that labour is approaching. The most common first signs of labor are: The baby drops lower into the pelvis (This is called lightening) Frequent bowel movements Diarrhea or flu-like symptoms without fever Increased vaginal discharge Mild contractions called Braxton-Hicks that may begin the dilation of the cervix Blood tinged mucous signaling the opening of the cervix A sudden burst of energy frequently called the nesting instinct that often develops 24 to 48 hours before labor begins Membranes rupture You may wonder when the right time is to head to the hospital or birthing centre.
Most doctors and midwives agree that when contractions are 5 minutes apart and lasting for at least 60 seconds, it is time to get going. Make sure to keep track of how long you have been having contractions and if and when your water broke. Dont feel bad if you head to the hospital only to be sent home to wait a bit longer.
Its often difficult to tell when early labour is starting. However, you will most certainly not mistake active labour. At this stage, your contractions will be coming regularly every 2 to 5 minutes, and your cervix will be dilated at least 3 cm. What, you may ask, does a contraction feel like? Many mothers describe early labor contractions as feeling similar to bad menstrual cramps or gas pains.
With each contraction, the intensity will increase. During this phase, the progress of labour and your babys position will be determined by internal exams that may be performed during a contraction. You will also probably be asked if you want any type of pain relief during this phase. There is no disputing that contractions during labor can be very intense and painful. However, stay positive and remember that with each contraction you are nearer to meeting your baby for the first time. It often helps to visualize what your body is doing during contractions and to try to work with your body instead of against it.
Dont hesitate to ask your doctor or midwife about relaxation or breathing techniques that may help. You, your doctor and midwife have probably talked about what to do when you think you're in labour. But if you think the time has come, don't be embarrassed to call. Doctors and midwives are used to getting calls from women who are uncertain if they're in labour and who need guidance -- it's part of their job. And the truth is that your doctor or midwife can tell a lot by the tone and tenor of your voice, so verbal communication helps. Your provider will want to know how close together your contractions are, whether you can talk through a contraction, and any other symptoms you may have.
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