You’ve been pregnant for 9 months, you’ve made it thus far. You’re ready to meet your little one but you just wonder when the moment will come. Many mums go into labour on days earlier or after the calculated due date. As a matter of fact, only around 4 percent of newborns are born on their due dates - other births can happen from when you’re 37 weeks pregnant up to 42 weeks pregnant. So how would you know when you need to rush to the hospital or birth center?
Signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away
Here are the symptoms that tells you should be on your way:
Vaginal Discharge You are most likely to see an increase in vaginal discharge. It can come in brown or pink colour and even seem a bit bloody.
Baby Dropping (sometimes called “Engagement” or “Lightening”) Your baby may move to a lower resting position that is closer to your pelvis. When your baby’s weight shifts from pressing your rib cage to lower down, you may be able to breathe more freely (Finally!).
Braxton Hicks Contractions You may start feeling some mild cramps with the tightening of your belly. Braxton Hicks contractions can kick in as your uterus prepares for the real labour. They will ease up when you change postures or take a walk and eventually subside when the real contractions begin. *Tips: Use 5-1-1 to check if your contractions are real! If your contractions continue to be 5-min apart and 1-min long for at least 1-hour, you should be on your way to the hospital!
Bowel Movements Your stomach may start to grumble from the frequent bowel movements with cramping. It means that your body is trying to empty your bowels to make room for your uterus to contract well. So don’t worry if you feel indigested or start vomiting, it probably means your baby is coming soon!
Restlessness You can find it challenging to rest, relax, or concentration. You can start losing sleep, spending your nights lost in your own thoughts and questions. Just remember this - Don’t end up knocking yourself out, you’ll need your energy for childbirth.
Signs telling you that your labour is actually happening
Your Water Breaks You’ve probably imagined how embarrassed you’d be if your water suddenly breaks when you’re anywhere but your home. A surge of fluid pouring onto the floor from under, you turn around and see so many eyes watching in awe... oh those poor characters in the movies.
Rest assured, studies have shown that only 8-10% of women reported having their water broke before the regular contractions kick in. Even if your water - the amniotic fluid sac protecting your baby - breaks without any warning, you’ll more likely to feel a small trickle only, because your baby’s head is blocking the liquid from leaking out.
When your water breaks, you are expected to go spontaneously into labour within 12 hours. Hurry to the hospital and prepare for your baby’s arrival!
You Spot a Bloody Discharge As you’re closer to your labour, your cervix begins to dilate and soften to prepare for the delivery. This is when a blood smear or running mucus can dislodge from the opening. The mucus plug can look brownish at the beginning and appear more pinkish as your cervix continues to thin and dilate, resulting in breaking blood vessels along your cervix skin. However, labour can happen within hours, days, or even weeks away after experiencing the bloody discharge.
Your Contractions are Rhythmic and Powerful Many moms start by feeling mild cramps in their lower back or abdomen, around 1 or 2 per hour. They become more regular and strong over time when your baby’s head gets push down to your pelvic cavity. Effacement and dilation happen as you feel overpowered by your contractions coming from your back to the front of your belly. You’re likely to experience serious back pain when your baby presses again your spine - this is when you’ll know for sure that your baby is trying to come out!
*IMPORTANT: If you are experiencing those symptoms before you’re 37 weeks pregnant or unsure about your symptoms - contact your doctor immediately to get yourself checked!
Wondering what to pack in your hospital bag? Get yourself ready for a relaxed hospital stay with our hospital bag edit HERE