What Are The Signs That You Are In Labour
When most people think of labour they conjure up an image of a woman shouting with pain lying on a hospital bed. There are beads of sweat rolling down her face and there is probably the quintessential gown and stirrups you see in the movies. In truth that is quite a generalised image of giving birth but it is what we are fed through the media.
Interestingly enough labour can start in some really subtle ways. It doesn’t always begin with your waters dramatically breaking in public or contractions going from one to ninety in the space of five minutes (although, that does happen too). There are many signs of labour which a woman may not even know is happening. These gestures and changes in her body may be pointing in the direction of the baby coming soon.
Here are some signs that your body is preparing for labour or that labour has actually already begun.
A Sudden Burst Of Energy
Many women refer to a sudden burst of energy in the days leading up to them going into labour. A weekend, for example, that involves a random deep clean or will to redecorate and de-clutter. Some people refer to this as “nesting” and it can often be a sign that labour is imminent. Despite feeling full of energy it is important to reserve as much of it as you can for the labour itself.
This is a common symptom of the third trimester of pregnancy. They are often considered as a sort of “practice” run for contractions. They are generally painless but can feel a little uncomfortable. If these tightenings suddenly become painful and take on a regular pattern they could absolutely be the real thing.
Diarrhoea is something that can occur at any time during your pregnancy. It can be the body’s response to a surge in hormones as well as your changing diet and activity levels. It can also be a sign that labour is on the way if it happens close to your due date. Many people refer to it as a “clear out” and it is important to keep hydrated if this does happen.
This is the colloquial term used between mothers to describe the changing pressure on your cervix when your body is preparing for labour. When the baby drops a woman can experience a sharp “lightening” pain in her pelvis and cervix due to the increase in pressure as the baby moves lower into the birthing canal to prepare for labour.
Often referred to as a “bloody show” - this surge in discharge can be a sign that the cervix is preparing for labour by “losing” it’s mucous plug. This mucous is often jelly-like and can be blood-tinged or brown in colour when it dislodges from your cervix and becomes visible in your underwear, tissue paper or in the toilet itself.
Leaking Amniotic Fluid
When your waters “go” it isn’t always a dramatic affair where a gush of water surprises you in public. It can be a very gradual and subtle affair. In fact, many women struggle to determine whether it’s their amniotic fluid or a weak bladder causing the leaking. It can be a sign of labour and you should notify your care-team if you suspect it to be your waters “trickling”. If 24 hours passes and labour does not begin you may be offered antibiotics as a precaution due to the fact that you are vulnerable to infection.
Your Joints Feel “Loose”
Before labour commences you may feel as though your body suddenly feels more relaxed and “loose”. The hormone “relaxin” is responsible for this. You may suddenly feel a lightness in your joints and you may begin to feel more flexible as your body prepares for labour.
A sudden surge in a backache or pain can be a sign that labour is not too far away. It may be due to the baby’s position or it may actually be contractions. Many women experience contractions and pains in their back rather than their stomach during labour depending on the position of the baby.
Written by Tracey Quinn staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.loveofliving.ie.