Was that a contraction? Did my water just break? Is this labor?
Before you jump in the car and head to the hospital, check out these common signs of labor before deciding to call your doctor and making your way to hospital!
Even veteran moms aren’t always sure if their labor is starting, as many of the signs can be vague and misread. The signs aren’t always black or white, so check out these cues first.
1. Your Water Breaks
One of your big fears is probably having your water break while at work or in a restaurant! Fortunately, that kind of occurrence is relegated to the movies, and only a small percentage of women (around 8 percent) actually report having their water break before having consistent contractions. Also, the chances are it will be a small leak, and not something out of Dam Busters.
Once your amniotic sac has ruptured, usually labor is not far behind.
“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.” // parents.com
2. You’re Having Strong, Regular Contractions
Braxton Hicks will arrive in the last few weeks of pregnancy, and are commonly mistaken for contractions. The difference is, they are usually not very strong, nor are they commonly regular. A lot of the time they are triggered by thirst or hunger, so consuming some food or water may stave them off.
Actual labor pains however, won’t diminish until you’ve given birth. Typically they become more intense and more frequent. So it may begin to feel like cramps, but then progress to strong contractions at regular intervals.
3. There’s a Discharge
“During pregnancy, the cervix stays closed and plugged up with mucus. It’s nature’s way of protecting your baby from infection. But as you progress toward labor, the cervix begins to dilate and soften in preparation for delivery, causing what’s accumulated there to dislodge. The mucus, which can measure up to a teaspoonful, is dispelled as either a blob (called the “mucus plug”) or a runny smear.” // parents.com
In addition, blood vessels can tear as the cervix opens, which will tint the discharge with red, hence the term, “bloody show”. When this happens, labor could still be hours to days or even weeks away.
Dr. Grabowski says that during the early part of your labor, your body releases prostaglandins which can cause your uterus to contract. However, these prostaglandins also can over stimulate the bowels, resulting in diarrhea.
5. Back Pain
Most pregnant women will have back pain for many months by now. But there will likely be a point where it will become extra painful and very concentrated, which could be a sign of “back labor,” which happens in about 30 percent of women. In some cases, when the baby descends the birth canal, her skull could be hitting mom’s spine, resulting in constant and radiating back pain.
For another views on the signs of labor, check out this video below!