Anxiously waiting for delivery, many pregnant women are afraid of missing early signs of labour. Perhaps, you heard some folk saying, but you’re not sure you can trust it. In fact, there are some science-based signs that labour is about to start and knowing them you can prepare for the thrilling event and respond to any situation adequately.
In the last weeks of pregnancy some changes take place in the woman’s hormonal profile. With time placenta starts producing less progesterone and more estrogen. Progesterone prevails in the body during the whole period of gestation ensuring maintenance of pregnancy, while estrogen is responsible for preparation for delivery. When the concentration of estrogen in blood reaches the maximum level, the receptors in the brain understand this as a signal to finish pregnancy, so labour and delivery start.
The changes taking place in the pregnant woman’s body under the influence of hormonal changes and preparing the maternal passages to delivery are called signs of labour in pregnancy. Usually, these signs are observed at 38-39th weeks of pregnancy, but this doesn’t mean that all of them take place during this period and with the same intensity. In fact, they can vary with time and sometimes women may miss some of them. If this is not your first delivery, it’s likely that signs for labour will be observed later than in nulliparous women.
What are the early signs of labour?
One of the popularly known signs of oncoming labour is lightening. And it’s absolutely true as it’s based on anatomical changes in late pregnancy. If the baby is in a head-down position, in this period his/her head goes down further – it gets inserted into the pelvis. The upper part of the uterus also goes down and stops compressing lungs and stomach. Therefore, women can notice that it becomes a little easier to breathe along with lightening.
Another sign of labour in pregnancy is passing of the mucus plug. This can happen 2 weeks before labor, but in most cases women lose the mucus plug a day or two days before delivery. You can see some vaginal discharge on your panties or bed linen. It can be clear, white, yellowish, brown or even slightly pink with a small amount of blood. During the pregnancy the mucus plug seals the uterine cervix protecting the fetus from various infections. Before labour the cervix expands and the mucus plug comes out in parts or all at once.
What are the signs that labour is near?
Contractions are another clear signal of forthcoming labor. Contractions promote cervical dilatation for a fetus to pass. They are accompanied by drawing pains in the abdomen and repeated at intervals of 15–20 minutes. Over time they become stronger as well as more long-lasting, frequent and painful. The intervals between contractions gradually decrease until they reach 3–4 minutes.
The most obvious sign of labour is rupture of membranes and bursting of waters. The waters can leak in a small amount or burst in large quantities. Normally, they are clear, yellowish or white-pink in color and have no odor. If you notice any abnormalities, such as turbidity, green color, foul odor or traces of blood, it’s necessary to inform your doctor, as this can indicate fetal hypoxia. In any case, after bursting the waters you must immediately go to the hospital since the amniotic sac is the last barrier protecting your baby from infection.