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> How to really know you are in labor?

When will it come? What would I be feeling? How long will it last? These may be some of the questions that first time expectant moms might wonder and every mother would have a different experience. However, the question that will always run through the heads of moms, even for experienced mothers, and a question that we can answer, would be “How will I know it is time?” That's because many of the early signs of labor are vague and easily misinterpreted. Before you grab your hospital bag, check to see if you're experiencing these common signs of labor to find out if you should call your doctor.


Your baby drops

If this is your first pregnancy, you may feel what's known as "lightening" a few weeks before labor starts, meaning the baby now rests lower in your pelvis. You might feel less pressure just below your ribcage, making it easier to catch your breath.


More intense Braxton Hicks contractions

Even though contractions are a telltale sign of labor, many women are fooled by practice contractions -- known as Braxton Hicks -- in the last few weeks of pregnancy. So how do you tell those from the real symptoms of labor? When these contractions get stronger, longer and much more frequent. Some women experience menstrual-like cramps during this time.

True labor pains, by contrast, do not lessen until delivery. In fact, they typically get more intense and more frequent over time. For instance, what starts out as an overall crampy feeling may progress into distinct contractions that go from ten to eight to five to three minutes apart.


Diarrhea or nausea

During the early part of labor, your body begins to release prostaglandins, a group of hormonelike substances that cause the uterus to contract and help soften and dilate the cervix. But prostaglandins can also hyperstimulate the bowels, causing frequent stools or even diarrhea. Do remember to stay hydrated!

Change in color and consistency in your vaginal discharge

In the last days before labor you’ll notice an increased and/or thickened vaginal discharge. You may also notice the loss of your mucous plug — the cork sealing off your uterus from the outside world. It can come out in one large piece or lots of little ones. This thickened, pinkish discharge is also known as “bloody show” and is a good indication that labor is imminent.


Backaches

Just like a lot of pregnant women, your back may have been aching for months. But when the pain becomes extremely harsh, this can be a sign that you're experiencing "back labor," which happens to nearly one third of women. Whether you experience true back labor or not, excruciating back pain is a sure signal that you're ready to deliver.


Water Breaks

When the fluid-filled amniotic sac surrounding your baby ruptures, fluid leaks from your vagina. If your water does break, you're likely to feel a small leak, not a big gush, because your baby's head often prevents too much fluid from leaking out. And whether it comes out in a large gush or a small trickle, this is a signal that it's time to call your doctor or midwife. Eighty percent of women spontaneously go into labor within 12 hours after their water breaks. And those who don't are likely to be induced because the risk of infection increases once the amniotic sac has ruptured.

With these knowledge, you will know when it is time to grab that hospital bag and rush to the hospital!


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