So the day that you’ve been waiting for is drawing near, the day of your baby’s birth. Here are 6 signs that will let you know when it’s time to head to the hospital.
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1. The Lightening
Before you go into labour your baby will start to settle or lower into your pelvis, this process is called lightening. It’s your baby getting into position to exit, head low and down. Your uterus will be resting more on your bladder, so you may feel like you need to visit the bathroom more often.
It may take place a few weeks (if it’s your first pregnancy) or a few hours before you go into labour.
2. Frequent contractions
Contractions aren’t always a sign that you’re about to pop. For a few months or weeks even before delivery you can experience Braxton-Hicks contractions. This is when you feel a pinch as the muscles in your uterus tighten to prepare for pushing the baby out.
So how do you tell the difference? Braxton-Hicks or false contractions rarely get stronger or regular, and they normally go away. Whilst real contractions don’t stop when you relax or change position.
They typically become more intense, painful and frequent. Sometimes they fall into a regular pattern, moving in a wave-like motion from the top to the bottom of your uterus.
3. Mucous Plug
In the last few days before labour you’ll likely notice the loss of your mucous plug. This plug accumulates at the cervix during pregnancy in order to protect the baby against infection. But when you progress to labour, the cervix begins to dilate and soften causing it to open wider. This leads to the mucous being dislodged and discharged into the vagina.
It may come out as a large piece or little pieces and may appear, pink, clear and slightly bloody. At this point, labour could happen in a couple of hours.
4. Cervix Dilation and Effacement
I’m sure you’ve wondered what the difference between Dilation and Effacement is. Prior to birth the connective tissue of your cervix becomes thinned and shorter, so as to stretch and open around the baby’s head. This thinning and shortening is called effacement.
The opening and stretching of your cervix is called dilation. They are both direct results of your contractions.
How you’re labour progresses is measured by how much your cervix has thinned and opened to allow your baby to pass through.
5. Increased Back Pain
Like most pregnant women, you’d likely have a lot of back pain months before the birth. But for some women you may experience something called back labour. This is when your back becomes extremely painful, which for a third of women is a sign that the baby is coming.
Normally, the baby would descend down the birth canal with its face pressed against the spine. But sometimes the baby will descend with its skull hitting the spine. This results in constant pain that will pass through the abdomen and focus on the spine.
6. Water Breaks
I’m sure we’ve all imagined when the time would come for your water to break. Would it be in the movies, in a restaurant, at home? It’s actually one of the last signs that you’ll notice when getting into labour and happens to less than 15% of women. Most women will have regular contractions before the water even breaks; it’s rare that it breaks first.
You water breaking refers to when the amniotic sac, a sac filled with fluid that surrounds the baby, is ruptured. When it does happen you’ll feel a trickle of fluid or a sudden gush of fluid. Once it bursts, labour will follow in the next 24 hours.
These are the main signs that you’re about to get into labour, be sure to keep an eye out for them so that when they show up your ready.