Before rushing to the hospital to deliver your baby, learn to spot pre-labour symptoms. You might need to hurry off sooner than you think!
You’ve heard everything about labour from all your female relatives and friends with children. At this point, you’ve prepared yourself for the water breaking and the contractions to begin so you can rush to the hospital with your packed bag in hand and deliver your baby.
You feel prepared, but hold on. Do you know when you should actually leave for the hospital? Are you aware of the difference between pre-labour and labour?
Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialist Dr. Koh Gim Hwee at Raffles Womens Centre says that childbirth can take just a few minutes or many hours. It’s not as cookie-cutter as you might imagine.
Pre-labour symptoms can be unique to different individuals, says Dr. Koh.
Well, if that’s the case, how can you be sure you’re in labour? Dr. Koh gives us four pre-labour symptoms you should notice before heading to the hospital:
- Persistent lower back or abdominal pain, often accompanied by a crampy premenstrual feeling
- Vaginal bleeding called show (a brownish or blood-tinged mucus discharge). If you pass out the mucus plug that blocks the cervix, labour could be imminent or days away
- Painful contractions that occur at regular intervals, each lasting only 30 seconds
- Clear water flowing from the vagina (broken water bag), but you’re in labour only if it is accompanied by painful contractions
You should contact your doctor immediately if:
- Your water bag breaks, or if you suspect youre leaking amniotic fluid your baby is moving less than usual.
- You have vaginal bleeding (unless its just a small amount of blood-tinged mucous).
- You have fever, severe headaches, changes in your vision and/or abdominal pain.
These may signal an emergency and would require immediate medical attention.
Dr. Koh Gim Hwee is a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from Raffles Womens Centre in Raffles Hospital, a tertiary care hospital and the flagship of the Raffles Medical Group, a leading private healthcare provider in Singapore and South East Asia.