There are many ways to know if you are going into labor. Whether it is on time, early or late, your baby will come when he or she is ready. Your body will tell you when you should go to the hospital and you should listen. Do not try to hold off and wait for something, you should go when you first experience a sign of labor. A few of the sign will follow but remember, these are not the only signs that could alert you of the new arrival.
1. Your Baby “Drops”
For first time mothers, the baby will “drop” into the pelvis region a few weeks before birth (any children after that, this usually happens when you are truly in labor). This is a sign that the baby is positioning itself for the birth. The head will be down and the baby will feel lower than usual. The baby’s head will be pushing down on your bladder causing you to take more bathroom breaks than before as well.
2. Your Cervix Dilates
Your cervix will also start to prepare for the birth a few weeks before delivery. It will begin to open and thin out to allow the baby to pass through easily. At your checkups before delivery, your doctor will measure and possibly track dilation through an internal exam. Remember, everyone is different and everyone’s body reacts differently to pregnancy. Do not be discouraged if you are dilating slowly, the baby will come when he or she is ready.
3. More Cramp and Back Pain
Pain in your groin and lower back may increase as you near labor. Your muscles and joints are shifting and stretching in preparation for delivery. Stretch as much as you can a drink plenty of water. These will help with the cramps and some of the pain. Support your back with a pillow or folded blanket to take as much pressure off of your back as you can. This should help with some of the pain, but with what your body is experiencing, there is no way to eliminate all of the pain.
4. You Have Diarrhea
Just like most of the muscles in your lower abdomen are relaxing, so is your rectum. This can lead to loose bowel movements. This can be very annoying but it is normal. Stays hydrated and try to remember that you will soon be holding your little bundle of joy.
5. Your Joints Feel Looser
Throughout your pregnancy, your joints and ligaments will soften and loosen. Be careful with this as it increases clumsiness! Relax and remember that this is normal and your body’s way of preparing you for labor.
6. You Feel Stronger and More Frequent Contractions
Contractions are an early sign of labor. You can experience contractions for weeks but the ones you want to go to the hospital for are the strong, frequent contractions. This tells you that your body will start trying to push out the baby. If you think these contractions will go away, they won’t. No matter what position you are in, the contractions will continue to get stronger and more frequent and possibly fall into a regular pattern.
7. Your Water Breaks
This is one of the very last signs of you notice when going into labor. You should quickly and safely make your way to the hospital and call your doctor on the way to ensure he or she is there for when you arrive.
Remember that these are only a few signs when going into labor. Be sure that you are contacting your doctor more frequently during the last few weeks of your pregnancy. You doctor will be able to answer any questions that you may have and assist you in learning how to cope with some of these signs. Make sure that you have an overnight bag packed and ready to go in the event your baby decides to come early.