As the days of your pregnancy come to an end, you increasingly look forward to the birth of your baby. In television and movies you might see a pregnant woman double over in pain and the next moment holding the baby in her arms. However in real life things are hardly that simple and the signs of labor are not that dramatic.
Every labor story is unique and the signs of labor differ from one woman to the other. Doctors do not know what triggers of labor. However there are certain signs that can help you discern whether you are in labor or not as your due date inches closer.
One of the signs that you may be fast approaching labor is when your baby drops low into the pelvis. This happens a few weeks before the actual onset of labor. While the pressure on your diaphragm may be eased allowing you too breathe easily, you can now feel increased pressure on the pelvic region and bladder.
As you approach labor your cervix begins to dilate and ripen. Vaginal examinations by your doctor will help the doctor in checking these changes. The thinning of the cervix allows effacement and eases the birthing process.
The most common sign that you are in labor is when your water breaks. A rupture of the amniotic fluid is a clear sign of the onset of labor. This however does not mean that there will be a sudden gush of heavy fluid discharge. Some women may feel a constant trickle of clear odorless fluid. If you feel a constant trickle before your due date it is best to consult the doctor immediately as it could be an indication of premature rupture of membranes.
The cervix is protected by a mucus plug. This helps in the prevention of bacteria and other infections from entering the uterus and harming the fetus. As your labor draws near this mucous plug is discharged. If it is pink in color or is tinged with blood then it is known as bloody show. Although the exact time cannot be determined but if this mucous plug is discharged then labor usually starts in around a day or two.
Pregnancy contractions also known as Braxton Hicks contractions help in the dilation of the cervix. These contractions can start towards the end of pregnancy and as the labor draws closer the intensity and the frequency is increased significantly.
So how do you distinguish it from real labor contractions? Well, the difference between the two is the intensity and the frequency. While Braxton Hicks are significantly spaced apart, occurring every twenty to thirty minutes, real contractions are closer together. Moreover unlike Braxton Hicks, the labor contractions are intense and are not relieved by changing your position.