Labour is a unique, exciting, and somehow a terrifying experience for most pregnant women. It can be over in a matter of hours, but in some cases, the process of labour test’s a mother’s physical and emotional endurance.
You won’t know how labour and childbirth will unfold until it begins. However, you can prepare by understanding and knowing the sequence of to-dos during this momentous event.
For many pregnant mums, having a partner with them is the most important thing, from pregnancy through labour. No other people can replace the love and support that their partners will provide.
You may talk over with your husband what kind of support you feel comfortable accepting.
To know more regarding labour, we will talk about the signs and what to do in this most awaited moment of every soon-to-be mother’s life.
Silent Labour Signs
There could be labour signs that are silent (meaning they may go unnoticed or are not as severe) that might signal that labour may be starting. Watch out for these silent labour signs if you are drawing near your scheduled date of giving birth. These include:
- Tightening or contractions
- There might be a “show”, or when the plug of mucus from your cervix (entrance of your womb or uterus) comes away
- there are mild backaches
- Often having an urge to go to the bathroom, which might be caused by your baby’s head pressing onto your bowel
- your water breaking.
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Early signs of labour
Early labour, also called latency labour, is the earliest stage of labour. It is characterised by mild but consistent contractions. And, unlike Braxton Hicks contraction, continue to develop closer together and stronger each time.
Early labour is often the longest part of labor, sometimes, lasting for days. Contractions can be infrequent at first and be up to 20 minutes apart. Since early labour may be very long, relaxation and distraction can be important aids during this period.
Signs That Labour Is Coming Soon
You need to contact your doctor if you have these early signs of labour:
- you have regular contractions and you are having about 3 in every 10-minute period.
- your waters break
- you have very strong contractions and you feel the need for pain relief
- you are very worried and too anxious about anything
If you go into the hospital or your midwifery care unit before having established labour, they might recommend that you go home again, for a while.
What to Do When You Start to Experience the Signs of Labour
Once your labour has commenced, your midwife may check on you every time to see how you are progressing. They will also offer you support, including pain relief, if necessary to do so.
You can either walk around or get into a position that makes you feel comfortable doing the labour.
Additionally, your midwife may offer you regular vaginal checkups to observe how your labour is progressing. Your midwife will discuss what important checkups you need to have to monitor your baby’s movement.
Also, during the latent phase, it is a good idea that you have something to eat and drink. You will need the energy from what you ate and drank for the upcoming established labour.
Your labour is coming soon if:
- Your baby drops or moves lower into your pelvis.
- You have an increase in vaginal discharge that is clear, pinkish, or slightly bloody.
- At a prenatal check-up, your health care unit tells you that your cervix began to thin and dilate.
- You may have the nesting instinct.
Signs You’re On Active Labour
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Your cervix needs to open about 4 to 10 cm for your baby to get through it. This is the phase of what we call being fully dilated. This is also the part where you might have established labour.
In the 1st hour of labour, the time from the commencement of established labour to being fully diluted is usually 8 to 12 hours. It is often quicker, at around 5 hours, in your future 2nd or 3rd pregnancy.
When you reach the end of the 1st stage of your labour, you will feel an urge to push.
What are the signs of true labour?
The signs of true labour include the following:
- You can feel the muscles tighten up and then, relax. These real contractions may start regularly and then, gets stronger. Since these contractions will last from 30 to 70 seconds and come in waves at about 5 to 10 minutes apart. They will be very strong that you can’t walk or talk during the occurrence. As your delivery draws closer, they will get stronger and the time will be closer together until total delivery.
- You may feel pain in your belly and lower back. There is not much if anything that might reduce this pain, even at any position.
- Your mucus changes to brownish or reddish discharge, or what they call the bloody show.
- Your waters breaking. This is the amniotic fluid where your baby grew inside your womb. Or, it is a “bag of water” in your uterus. When this bag breaks, there might be a big rush of water, or sometimes it may just be a trickle.
No matter what time, day or night, if you think and feel you are in labour, call your health care provider instantly. They can help you assess the situation and tell if it’s time now to head for the hospital.
To determine if it is true labour, your health care unit will measure your cervix.
Signs of Preterm Labour
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Labour is considered preterm when it begins before the full gestation weeks or by week 37 of pregnancy. Premature or preterm babies are at risk for any health defects at birth and even later in life.
If you have signs of preterm labour or labour before 37 weeks of pregnancy, call your health care unit to get help immediately. It is also important to learn about the risks of preterm labour and how you may take preventive steps to reduce that risk.
Signs of preterm labour
If you have any of these signs or symptoms before your 37th week of pregnancy, you might be experiencing preterm labour:
- Change in your vaginal discharge (could be watery, mucus, or bloody) or having an increase in vaginal discharge than usual
- Pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, like your baby, is pushing down
- Constant low or dull backache
- Belly cramps with or without diarrhoea
- Regular or frequent contractions that make your belly become tighter, like a fist
- Your water breaks
What to do during preterm labour
If you think you have at least one of the signs of preterm labour, call your health care provider as soon as possible. If you have preterm labour, getting help is the best thing you can do.
When you get to the hospital, your health provider may ask you to have a pelvic test or a transvaginal ultrasound to see if your cervix has started to thin and open.
Also, a transvaginal ultrasound scans from the inside of your vagina instead of on the outside of your lower belly. Like a regular ultrasound, it uses sound waves and a computer to project a picture of your baby inside.
Additionally, if you are having preterm labour, your doctor may give you treatment to help stop it or to optimise your baby’s health. Talk to your gynaecologist for the treatment that is appropriate for you.
It is always important to look out for different signs before the start of your labour. Essentially, it is also needed to know what to do when having these signs and symptoms, and to always ask for guidance from your trusted doctor.
This article was written by Nathanielle Torre and republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.