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If you’re having a baby, you may be wondering how you will feel before going into labor, especially if this is your first baby. Here we have collected some information on what to expect and the signs to look out for that mean you are going into labor.
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What To Expect When You Go Into Labor
If you are having a baby, it’s understandable that you will want to know how it feels to go into labor. Knowing the signs of labor means you can be prepared, and get yourself to the hospital, or wherever you intend to give birth.
Here are some of the most common signs that women report when they are on the verge of labor.
Lots of women report a rise in their energy. This might also mean that you feel an urge to clean your house top to bottom in preparation for your new arrival.
This cleaning bug usually has to do with nesting, which is your natural urge to prepare for your little one’s arrival.
You may begin to feel these sudden urges about a week before your labor begins, but you can experience it a while before, and it’s perfectly fine to prepare for your little one then. But, make sure you don’t overdo it, as you’ll need all your energy when it comes time to head to the hospital or clinic.
Some women also feel that their joints are more relaxed and find they can breathe easier. This is usually due to dropping, or lightning as it is sometimes called. This is when the baby drops lower down into the pelvis in preparation for delivery.
However, some little ones are stubborn, and won’t drop until the last possible minute. When your little one begins to drop, you’ll notice that you can breathe easier, due to reduced pressure on your diaphragm.
The bottom of your bump may also feel heavier as it drops, which is all a signal that your little one will be in your arms shortly.
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You will also lose your mucus plug. This may come out in one large piece or several smaller pieces over time, and not all women will see this prior to delivery.
Some women only see the mucus plug when they deliver. This plug seals your uterus during pregnancy and is usually one of the first signs that you’re not too far away from meeting your little one.
Your mucus plug is a jelly-like substance, it may be clear or slightly pink and it can even be streaked with blood. You may notice your mucus plug in your underwear or on the toilet roll after going to the bathroom.
Contractions are one of the clearest signs that you’re going into labor. In the last few months of your pregnancy, you may experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which are often described as practice contractions.
When it comes to real contractions, they are much stronger than Braxton Hicks contractions, and they get stronger as time goes on, unlike Braxton Hicks ones.
Real contractions also don’t subside when you change positions or move about, as Braxton Hicks contractions usually do. Braxton Hicks contractions also usually only last for a few seconds, whereas real contractions will last for a minute or longer, and get closer together as your labor progresses.
As your baby drops down in the pelvis, ready for their arrival, you may notice intense or shooting vaginal pain.
The pain will likely subside after a few seconds, and you shouldn’t be worried, as it is a pretty common sign. The cause is usually due to the baby changing position, and it means that your little one should be here soon!
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You may feel some very intense and overwhelming emotions in the weeks and days before your little one’s arrival. If you’re not having any physical symptoms, then these heightened emotions might be a clue for you that labor is around the corner.
If you are an emotional person anyway, then this may be more difficult to spot. However, these heightened emotions are usually extreme.
You may find yourself crying over things that seem insignificant and silly as you prepare for your new arrival. As labor progresses, you will likely become more emotional.
If you find yourself making more frequent trips to the bathroom, then you might find yourself in labor in no time.
Loose bowels are your body’s way of making room for delivery so you should take this as a sign of progressing towards your labor. Diarrhea can also be a sign of the early stages of labor, however not everyone will experience this, so don’t be concerned if you don’t.
You’ve likely experienced a lot of back pain throughout your pregnancy, potentially from the added weight that you are carrying around, however, this will intensify as you approach your labor and delivery.
Your joints will loosen as your body prepares to go into labor and you’ll likely experience severe back pain and discomfort. The pain will move into your pelvis as labor approaches, and shifting positions is unlikely to ease the discomfort, meaning you’ll be giving birth soon!
We often see dilation in the movies in the hours and minutes before giving birth, however, for many women cervical dilation can begin in the weeks before delivery.
You’ll likely begin to notice dilation a day or so before delivery when the cervix dilates 2 or 3 centimeters. You’ll need to reach 10 centimeters of dilation before you can deliver, so the minor dilation means you’re not far away!
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Soon before you deliver your water will break, which is a common sign of labor. This is the beginning of active labor, which is the early stage of your delivery.
Your water will break when the amniotic sac breaks, releasing the fluid that is stored inside the sac. When you notice that your water has broken, you should notify your doctor who will advise you what to do next.
For many women, they never get the gush of water as you see in the movies. Instead, their waters may not break until they are closer to giving birth or it may need to be broken by the medical team in order to progress your labor quicker.
The further your labor progresses, the closer together and more intense your contractions will become. They’ll probably begin to last for about one minute, and they’ll intensify as time goes on.
You should try to keep track of your contractions to inform your doctor when you go into the hospital. If you’re not feeling up to keeping track, ask your partner, mom, friend, or whoever is with you to keep track.
Some women experience cramps when they move towards active labor. You might find yourself suffering from leg cramps or back cramps which is completely expected. You’ll also begin to experience a heavy feeling as labor progresses.
Nausea is a firm sign of labor, although many women overlook nausea due to regular nausea throughout their pregnancy.
You may not notice a feeling of nausea due to the contractions, water breaking, and a myriad of other physical signs of labor, but if you do notice that you’re feeling nauseous, it’s a common sign that labor is approaching quickly.
How Did You Feel Going Into Labor?
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Scared, worried, terrified, underprepared (even though you have spent the last 9 months preparing), these are all feelings that you will likely feel before going into labor.
But you need to remember that this is something your body has spent its entire life preparing for, listen to your body it will guide you through this unchartered territory I promise.
Listen to your medical team they do this every day and are there to offer you support and guidance.
Most of all go easy on yourself especially if this is your first labor – they never go exactly to plan so be prepared to go with the flow and do whatever you need to do to keep you and your baby safe.
As a mom of 5 children, I completely understand that the inevitable prospect of going into labor can be terrifying for many women. But it is also the final hurdle in your journey to becoming an amazing parent. Remember to breathe and let your body lead you to your final destination.
What Should You Do If You Think You’re In Labor?
If you’re experiencing labor signs like the ones listed above, it means your baby is on the way, but not immediately. You may experience some of these signs for a few days or weeks before you go into active labor and deliver your baby.
In early labor, the best course of action for you and your baby is to stay at home and make yourselves comfortable.
Try to get out for a walk if you’re feeling up to it, to help alleviate some of the pain that you’re feeling. You could also try to focus on your breathing to aid with anxiety and any pain.
Try to change positions regularly to make yourself comfortable and avoid adding extra pressure to your joints.
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You might even find that taking a bath or a shower will help to alleviate some of your discomforts and be a great way to spend some time before you head to the hospital for your delivery.
Once you’re a bit further along in your labor, you should contact your doctor who will advise when you need to come into the hospital to prepare for your delivery.
Did you get a feeling before labor?
Just before you go into labor, your cervix which is the lower part of your uterus will begin to soften and shorten in preparation for birth. At this time you may feel a little discomfort, maybe even some irregular contractions.
Do you feel sick before labor?
Nausea and diarrhea can be early signs of labor. This is due to some key hormones causing your muscles to relax in preparation for giving birth – this also includes those muscles in your rectum, so yes diarrhea may be a clue to your impending labor.
What is silent labor?
Silent labor is believed to be when your womb contracts so painlessly that you don’t feel the contractions in the early stages of labor. If this does happen to you the first sign that you are in labor may not come until you enter the second stage of labor.
The Final Thought
As you approach your labor and delivery, it is completely normal to feel a bit of anxiety as well as excitement and trepidation at what is ahead. You will likely experience signs and symptoms for a few days or weeks ahead of the actual labor and delivery and many of these are completely normal.
However, if you are concerned you should always contact your doctor for a second opinion. Now that you know some of the early signs, you can prepare for your little one’s impending arrival.
And if you want to prepare further for your little one’s arrival, why not check out Complete Hospital Bag Checklist: What To Pack For Mom And Baby.