Pregnancy - Labor, Signs and Actions

Expectant mothers, especially those pregnant for the first time, often have doubts about when labor begins and what it feels like. That's natural. Only experience can inform a woman exactly what it is, and even then one childbirth will vary from another. But being prepared by acquiring guidance can help ease concerns.

False labor is one of the trickiest issues pregnant women have to deal with. Packing the car, rushing to the hospital, disrupting a mate at work and more are all normal parts of delivery. Not generating false alarms is going to be high on anyone's wish list.

The first step is simply to accept an inescapable fact: no one can predict with certainty when labor begins (yet). A due date is nothing more than a best estimate. Those estimates have improved with the greater accuracy of early pregnancy tests, but they are still not 100% reliable.

Only about 5% of women who carry their babies to term actually deliver on the estimated date. Dates vary from a few days to a few weeks before or after. That doesn't mean that delivering early is necessarily delivering prematurely. There is simply a natural variation in how long pregnancy lasts. Due dates are specified for the average, that's all.

Signs To Look Out For

During a first pregnancy, babies will often move slightly into the birth canal two to three weeks before the onset of labor. An attentive mother can detect that movement. It may be easier to breathe, due to the shift away from the diaphragm. At the same time, pressure on the bladder may increase, leading to more frequent urination.

Past the first child, this movement may be less pronounced, and will tend to occur much later, sometimes only a few hours before labor begins.

Your Baby Moves

Throughout pregnancy, it's normal to experience contractions. The baby moves, your muscles react. Hormonal changes induce neural events that lead to contraction. These random events don't indicate much. But as the third trimester advances, they can increase in frequency and intensity.

As they come more often and stronger, mothers report they experience heightened energy and may feel compelled to take on projects around the house. Working off some of that energy is a healthy thing, particularly since (as the day approaches) they often just 'want it to be over'.

Before 'water breaks'

A small mucus plug that sealed the cervix during pregnancy can stretch and break apart, even before 'water breaks'. This pinkish mucus is a normal discharge. Deep red fluid or blood should be investigated at once as a possible sign of tearing of the placenta from the uterus.

Now is the time to get prepared for the final stages.

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