The closer the due date, the more the question “How to understand that labor is coming soon?” torments a woman. If a woman who has given birth before is familiar with the feeling of the approaching moment of the baby’s arrival, then a woman giving birth for the first time may mistake false contractions for real ones, and, naturally, panic will ensue. However, both first and subsequent births differ from each other. In this article, we will discuss the main signs of the onset of labor for both first-time mothers and those who have had previous births.
Main signs of childbirth
The true sign of the onset of labor is the opening of the cervix, which can be tracked by a doctor. However, not every woman is under the supervision of a specialist at the approximate due date. The following ten signs will indicate how to understand that labor is approaching:
- Discharge of the mucus plug. This is the first sign of labor beginning, which indicates the opening of the cervix. This process occurs several days before the onset of labor. The color of the discharge may vary from yellow to brown.
- Poor gastrointestinal function. Over the course of several days, a woman, as a rule, has abundant bowel movements, and the stool becomes liquid.
- “Lowering” of the belly. This is explained by the displacement of the bottom of the uterus, which is due to the transition of the presenting part of the fetus to the entrance of the pelvis.
- “Second wind.” The harbingers of imminent labor are the absence of pressure on the diaphragm and stomach, cessation of heartburn, and the ability to breathe fully. The center of pressure gradually shifts to the lower part of the abdomen.
- Distortion of appetite. As a rule, a woman refuses food, but it can be the opposite. If, in addition to changes in eating behavior, other symptoms and harbingers of labor are noted, it is important not to provoke the body and not to overeat before the upcoming process.
- Weight loss. A pregnant woman may lose a couple of kilograms before giving birth. This is due to the above-mentioned harbingers – intensive bowel cleansing.
- Emotional instability. A woman is nervous before the upcoming event. Such a change in mood is explained by the intensified work of the neuroendocrine system.
- Discharge of amniotic fluid. Rupture of the fetal membrane directly indicates how to understand that childbirth is near: the process can be slow or rapid. However, in both cases, it is necessary to immediately go to the maternity hospital!
- Pain. It can manifest itself in various locations: the lower abdomen or lumbar region, sometimes it affects both parts of the body. And the intensity varies from short-term painful sensations to continuous pain that is hard to endure.
- Change in fetal activity. It can be said that the baby in the womb is “training” for birth. Intense motor activity is replaced by calmness.
You may ask, “What about contractions?” Of course, they are the fundamental precursor to labor. However, they have their own characteristics, which we will discuss in more detail later. It should be noted that these precursors may differ depending on how many times a woman has given birth. We will discuss the main distinguishing features later.
First signs of labor in first-time mothers
It is difficult to give a definitive answer as to what a first-time mother feels a day before giving birth, as each mother’s and baby’s body is individual. However, the main precursors of first-time labor are as follows:
- The “dropping” of the belly occurs several weeks before delivery;
- Frequent urination. It begins 2-3 weeks before delivery and is due to pressure from the baby’s head on the bladder;
- Scanty discharge of the mucous plug;
- Increased sensitivity of the breasts. Milk glands within the first pregnancy can be intensely painful, and the areola may be less distinct. First-time mothers may also develop Montgomery glands and secrete colostrum.
First-time mothers always experience stronger precursors. However, if more than ten years have passed between the first and second birth, a mother giving birth for the second time may experience pregnancy in the same way as the first time.
First signs of labor for mothers giving birth again
The process of repeated childbirth has its own characteristics:
- Due to the expanded cervix, the fetus descends a couple of days before labor;
- Rupture of the membranes occurs rapidly, sometimes accompanied by a pop sound;
- Abundant release of the mucous plug.
In both second and third births, precursors are less pronounced due to physiological readiness of the body.
Important! Many women, even when pregnant not for the first time, wonder: “Do all women have labor precursors?” We answer: not always. Mothers giving birth again may not experience a pronounced clinical picture. Sometimes, the moment of birth occurs without any obvious signs.
False or true labor contractions – how to tell?
Now let’s try to understand the symptom that can mislead a pregnant woman – contractions. It is well known that they can be false or true. To understand when labor will start, let’s consider the following:
- True contractions are accompanied by significant pain and have a regular, not episodic character.
- The pain does not subside even after changing positions and walking;
- The frequency of contractions is initially equivalent to five or more times per hour, then the intervals between contractions are replaced by a minute of calm, and after that, they become background in nature.
A woman who has given birth before, due to the elasticity of the uterine muscles, may not experience false contractions at all, but only feel true ones in the pre-delivery period.
It should be noted again that each woman can experience the pre-delivery process differently, regardless of whether it is her first childbirth or not. We have summarized what the signs of childbirth can be based on average physiological indicators. The prenatal process is very important for the well-being of both the mother and the child, so it should be carefully monitored by a doctor.