Is This Real Labor?

How Will I Know When Labor Starts – Common Signs Of Labor

Is All This Stuff A Sign of Labor?

Are all of the things that are happening to you a sign of labor?

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I was going to have a baby. I knew what it took to get pregnant (haha), and I knew that the baby was going to be born one way or another.  Even when you’re a first time mother, many people will tell you the story of their birth. You end up hearing about vaginal births and cesareans. You hear about hospital births, birth center births, and hospital births. You glean enough from your friends and families that you hear some of the terms you’d like to research to learn about your birth options.

Trying To Figure Out If I’m In Labor Is Making Me Anxious

What isn’t so easy is identifying some of the first signs that labor is beginning.  I’ve worked with a lot of families having babies for the first time, and one of the aspects (along with when to go to the hospital or birth center, if not birthing at home.) is the fear of not identifying some of the common signs of labor.

 

Slow, Slow, Slow…Slow and Steady Wins The Race

One of the crazy amazing things about our body when we go into labor is that our bodies usually start us out slow and gentle. Our bodies can begin the labor process without us really knowing. The easier, almost in-perceivable changes, usually only subtly get our attention to let us know that it’s time to slow down and relax. We’re going to be running a marathon soon . No matter how peaceful, painless, short, or happy a birth is, they all feel like a marathon. It’s the only marathon where you are falling helplessly and profoundly in love the entire way. So sometimes our bodies start out slow, slow, slow…because slow and steady wins the race.

Amniotic Fluid/Water Breaking – Whoop There Is Is! Or, Not? 

Did you know that the water breaking (or release of waters) is rarely the first sign of labor? The movies paint it like you’re going to be in the middle of the grocery store and suddenly you’re going to be soaked. And while that’s certainly the experience of some women, the water releasing as the first sign of labor only occurs in 10% of cases.  It is more common that your amniotic sac will break once you are already very aware that you are in labor. I most commonly see the water break when a woman reaches transition (7-10cm) due to the pressure of the uterus working to help her baby pass through her pelvis and cervix to be born.  Some babies are even born with their amniotic sac still completely intact and it is removed after they are born. Did You Know: There’s actually two layers to an amniotic sac?

Will This Backache Ever Go Away?!

Backache is a possible sign of labor. The form of backache that is a sign of labor creates a feeling of restlessness. I know you’re wondering how that’s different than the backache you’ve already been experiencing, right? Backache as a sign of labor feels very low in your back. It’s not exactly painful, but it’s annoying.  One of the ways to find more comfort in early labor if backache is affecting you is to get into supported positions on your hands and knees, or to lean on an object  such as a birth ball.

I Feel Like I’m Having Menstrual Cramps – Is This Labor? 

Cramps that make you think I can’t possibly be having a period. I’m pregnant. Are another possible sign of labor. You may feel an odd feeling in your thighs as your uterus contracts. These menstrual like cramps are usually noticeable, but something you are still able to talk through. They aren’t usually very painful. They mostly just make you feel the dread that in a few months, your cycle is going to be back. Yay, so fun.

 

Ew, What Did I Eat Last Night – Soft Bowel Movements As A Sign Of Labor

Soft bowel movements are another sign of labor. It’s also a sign that you ate something your body didn’t agree with. An example would be spicy food. But, chances are, you ate spicy food to get labor moving because someone suggested it to you, and now your body is passing stool to make space for baby’s descent and you wish it hadn’t been spicy food that you’re now purging. (This is supposed to be a small chuckle.) On a serious note, sometimes you have a bowel movement at the beginning of labor that leaves you with the thought well, that was different. It may be looser than normal, or have a different color and consistency.

 

Nest, Nest, Nest All.The.Things. 

Nesting is a beautiful thing. Nesting is a process that takes place over a period of time and gets more intense as you get closer to labor. You’re going to have a baby. Of course you’re nesting for nine months. This is especially true if it is your first baby. You want to be prepared. It usually starts with buying cute baby clothes and building a place for your baby to sleep. You get a car seat. You buy an emergency baby kit. And then as you get closer to labor, it kicks in full gear. You can’t sleep because you see dust on the ceiling fan over your bed. You want to bake nine loaves of bread. You’re not even sure you like that kind of bread. The second you feel that you are prepared for baby (assuming you’re full-term) and you finally exhale a breath of relief that you can finally take a moment to relax and just peacefully wait for baby, baby will come. It’s like magic.

Bloody Show – Did My Vagina Just Sneeze? 

I know this is the one you’ve been waiting for. Bloody show.  I’m going to tell you from woman to woman what bloody show looks like. I’m going to tell you because the internet makes it into a nice-nice thing that shouldn’t be alarming. And while it’s not alarming, enough of you have sent me pictures of it saying what the hell is this, that it’s time for a real talk. You go into the bathroom. You do your business. You go to wipe. You notice that it looks like your vagina sneezed into your toilet paper. It’s like a clump of clear-yellow mucus that may (and usually does!) have tinges of blood in it. During pregnancy, your body formed this lovely clump of mucus in your cervix to form a barrier between your uterus and the outside world. There no longer needs to be this barrier because it’s show time! Get it? Bloody show? Show time. Ok, so I’m having too much fun with this!  Bloody show is an indicator that your cervix is thinning (effacing – this is what all the 50% effaced is all about. You’ll hear a percentage at some of your appointments. This relates to how thin your cervix is getting)  and your cervix is starting the dilation (0-10cm) process.

 

Did I Just Pee on Myself, Again? 

If your water has not already released, you may experience some leaking of amniotic fluid. And yes, it totally feels like you’re slowly peeing on yourself. Sometimes there is a small tear in the amniotic sac that occurs during labor. During contractions, when there is pressure on your uterus, some of the fluid may leak out because it has nowhere else to go.  While it’s possible for amniotic fluid to patch itself and regenerate (again, magic), I would consider this a very active sign that labor is beginning and call in to your care provider to let them know that you are leaking amniotic fluid. Did You Know: There are test strips to help you determine whether you’re leaking urine or amniotic fluid?

 

Braxton- Who? 

Braxton- Hicks- Contractions. You know you’re having them. Contractions that may start to form a pattern of being similar in length and a certain duration apart, but then they stop after a period of time and hours may pass before you have them again. Braxton-Hicks are the most energy consuming part of early labor because you’ve been led to believe that contractions mean labor. So you may be timing them and they may be keeping you awake. You can time a couple, time for an hour, or time as much as you honestly want to. But if timing your contractions is making you anxious, you can stop timing them and relax. Trust me when I tell you that your body will let you know when your contractions are changing. It will feel way different.  Braxton-Hicks contractions as a sign of labor help to soften and thin the cervix.

My Body Is Fierce! 

Labor contractions are an obvious sign of labor. Labor contractions may start off as cramps or Braxton-Hicks but then they become longer, stronger, and closer together.  Labor contractions totally dilate the cervix. Labor contractions do not go away with a change in activity. Labor contractions become harder to talk and move through. During a labor contraction, you usually prefer silence because it is becoming more difficult to be fully present in conversations. As labor contractions progress, this becomes the time to utilize your comfort measures and support team to assure you that you are a rock star and baby is going to be here soon.

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