What Do Expectant Mothers Need to Know About Labor?
Pregnancy is a beautiful and exciting experience for a woman, especially for first-time mothers. While enjoying moments like feeling their baby’s heartbeat and experiencing their little kicks, some pregnant women worry about some complications. These can include premature birth, labor pain, C-section delivery, and more. However, knowing about labor will help you stay relaxed and be prepared for your big day. From the best ways to manage labor pain to labor phases, this article will help you learn more about what to expect when you are in labor and provide some practical tips for giving birth.
Signs that Signal Upcoming Labor
Labor is the process of childbirth, beginning with the uterus contractions and ending with baby birth. With these symptoms, you can know you are nearing the end of pregnancy:
- Baby Drops: Your baby will begin coming down into your pelvis a few weeks before labor begins. This process does not often happen in subsequent births.
- Cervix Dilates: Your cervix will start opening and thin out a few days or weeks before the labor. During your checkup, your provider may measure, track dilation, and effacement, through an internal exam.
- Cramps and Increased Back Pain: If it is not your first pregnancy, you may experience cramps and pain in the groin and lower back when labor nears. Your joints and muscles may stretch and shift to prepare for childbirth.
- Diarrhea: Uterus muscles and other muscles, including those in the rectum, begin to relax in preparation for childbirth, which can cause diarrhea.
- Fatigue and Nesting Instinct: Your over-sized belly, compressed bladder, and other organs can impact your sleep during the last few days or weeks of pregnancy, so you may feel tired or have an urge to nest.
- Loose-Feeling Joints: Before labor, your joints throughout your body feel more relaxed and a bit less tight, helping the pelvis open up for childbirth.
- Weight Gain Stops: Weight gain often stops at the end of pregnancy, and you may lose a few pounds.
- Stronger and Frequent Contractions: Contractions are the sign of active labor. You can practice contractions before a few weeks or months of delivery. During contractions, the muscles in your uterus will become tight.
- Vaginal Discharge Changes Color and Consistency: When nearing the end of pregnancy, you will experience an increased, thickened, pinkish vaginal discharge.
- Water Breaks: Water breaking is one of the final signs of labor that most women experience.
Signs and Symptoms of Active Labor
During active labor, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Strong, regular contractions that do not ease up as false contractions do.
- Your contractions do not subside even if you change positions.
- Your contractions become more frequent and painful as time goes by, and labor progresses.
- Early active labor contractions could feel like stomach upset, intense menstrual cramps, or lower abdominal pressure.
- Pain can be in the lower abdomen, lower back, and descend into the legs.
What Should You Do If You Are in Labor?
Steps to take when you are in labor:
- Contact your labor coach or healthcare team for support and encouragement to stay comfortable and relaxed.
- Do breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, or whatever that keeps you relaxed and comfortable.
- Ask for labor pain relief medication if the pain is unbearable.
- Stay hydrated.
- Have a light snack.
- Walk around or change positions.
- Urinate regularly.
What Are Contractions? What Do They Feel Like?
Contractions are the occasional tightening and relaxing of the uterus muscles. Early labor contractions can feel like gastrointestinal discomfort, lower abdominal pressure, or heavy menstrual cramps.
What Can You Do to Prevent Pre-Term Labor?
Follow these tips to prevent pre-term labor:
Whether you need labor tips for first-time mothers or want to learn what first-time mothers can expect during labor, schedule an appointment with North Atlanta Women's Care.
- Watch your weight and try not to gain too much weight during pregnancy.
- Do not smoke and drink alcohol.
- Schedule prenatal visits to monitor the health of you and your baby and to prevent complications during pregnancy.
- Get treatment for chronic health conditions such as thyroid, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.
- Protect yourself from infections, and get vaccinations if required.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Reduce your stress.
- Wait at least one and a half years before getting pregnant again.
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