There are so many things to think about when you are pregnant. Is what you are experiencing normal? Learn the signs of premature labor, how to tell if you are in real labor, how to prepare for labor and what to do when you do go into labor.
- Uterine Contractions — If you feel like your uterus tightening or the baby balling up for four times or more in one hour.
- Menstrual-like Cramps — Cramps like those you may have during your period may come and go, or be constant.
- Abdominal Cramps — These feel like stomach cramps with or without diarrhea.
- Low Backache — This is a backache near your tailbone that comes and goes or is there constantly.
- Pelvic Pressure — This feels like the baby is pushing down in your vagina.
- Change in Vaginal Discharge — There may be a sudden change in your discharge. It may increase, or become more mucousy, watery or slightly bloody.
- Fetal Movement — If you sense a decrease in your baby’s movement (less than 10 movements over a three-hour period when the baby is normally active.)
What to Do
If you have one or more of these warning signs, you could be in premature labor. You should:
- Lie down
- Drink 2-3 glasses of water
- If the symptoms are not gone in 1 hour, call your doctor immediately. Also call your doctor if you have any vaginal bleeding that is more than a light day of menstrual period or if you experience a sudden gush of fluid from your vagina.
Causes of Premature Labor
Experts do not really know the actual causes of premature labor, but some things that may put women at risk include:
- Previous premature labor or delivery of a premature baby
- Twin or triplet pregnancy
- Medical problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney or lung disease
- Abnormality of the uterus or cervix
- Abnormality of the placenta
- Women under 17 years
Things to Watch for in the Last Weeks
- Some swelling of the legs and feet is normal. Excessive swelling in the hands and face are not, and you should call our office (910.323.2103) immediately if you experience this. In addition, if you experience unusual headaches, you should call the office.
- Sharp abdominal pain with bleeding or bright red bleeding may not be normal and you should call the office (910.323.2103) immediately.
- You may sense that your baby’s movements have subdued somewhat, however, what is happening is that as the baby grows there is less room for him or her to move. Be aware of the overall patterns of movements as you progress. Please call the office (910.323.2103) if you have concerns about these patterns.
- A gush of fluid from the vagina or continuous leaking should be evaluated. If you experience either, please call the office (910.323.2103).
- The onset of labor – If you experience contractions that are regular and are no more than 5 minutes apart, please call the office (910.323.2103).
Preparing for Labor
Before you go into labor, you will likely feel frequent contractions (sometimes referred to as Braxton-Hicks contractions.) These mild contractions are normal and indicate that your body is preparing for actual labor. While the onset of labor is different for each woman, one of more of the following may occur as you begin to go into labor:
- You may begin to suffer persistent back pain. Many times the pain will be accompanied by a feeling similar to premenstrual cramps.
- You may see a mucous discharge. It might be slightly blood-tinged. This plug blocks the cervix and its passing indicates that labor could be imminent. Its appearance means that your cervix has begun to dialate. Even if it is several days away, this indicates that things are moving in the right direction.
- The contractions you feel will become progressively more uncomfortable and painful.
The Beginning of the Labor Process
When you finally do go into labor, you may feel generalized pain from time to time. This is normal.
You will find that the initial stages of labor will be most comfortable at home, rather than going immediately to the hospital.
If you are uncomfortable at times, you may do any of the following:
- Sit in a warm bath
- Have someone give you a lower back massage. Using common household items such as a tennis ball or a rolling pin can be effective
- Use ice, a heating pad, or a combination of both on your lower back
- Consume water, juice or even a popsicle as a way of maintaining fluids
- Generally speaking, anything you find relaxing is acceptable
Is it Time to Go to the Hospital?
At Fayetteville Woman’s Care, we recommend that patients always call us when any or all of the following occur:
- Your water breaks
- You are having contractions 5 minutes apart, or less, for more than 1 hour
- You can not carry on normal conversation during the contraction
- You are experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding
- You notice a significant change in fetal movement patterns
These are all signs of active labor and you should call our office at 910.323.2103 and plan to proceed to the hospital immediately.
Of course … always call us if you have concerns not listed above.