Your pregnancy is full of surprises from the very first day, and the last few weeks are no exception. If this is your first pregnancy, you’re probably beginning to wonder, “how do I know if this is labor?”
For new moms, the concept of labor can be scary, but at Fayetteville Women’s Care, our professional, attentive staff is prepared to walk you through every step.
Before you go into labor, it’s likely you’ll begin to experience frequent uterine contractions. These contractions, sometimes referred to as Braxton-Hicks contractions, are typically mild to painless and shouldn’t be cause for alarm. They are merely an indication that your body is preparing for labor!
You may also experience other symptoms such as persistent back pains along with an uncomfortable feeling much like menstrual cramps. It’s possible you may experience a mucous, blood-tinged vaginal discharge. Otherwise known as the “mucous plug”, this discharge comes from the cervical opening and indicates that your cervix has begun to dilate in preparation for delivery. Another sign that your labor is progressing in the right direction!
By this point, it’s likely your once mild, infrequent contractions will begin to increase and become more painful and uncomfortable. When you finally begin labor, the contractions will be more regular and predictable, with increasing pain and discomfort.
Many women like to experience the initial stages of labor at home where they can use various techniques to manage their pain. Try sitting in a warm bath, having your partner give you a lower back massage, and using ice and heat packs to work through the contractions. Don’t forget to eat and drink plenty of fluids during this stage. You’ll need the energy and the hydration later!
You’ll know it’s time to head to the hospital when your water breaks, your contractions are 5 minutes or less apart for more than an hour, you cannot keep up conversation during a contraction, you experience heavy vaginal bleeding, or you notice unusual fetal movement patterns.
Obviously, all women are different and no two pregnancies are the same. You may or may not experience every symptom listed above, so don’t worry if your labor progresses differently than you expected! At Fayetteville Women’s Care we are available and experienced in labor. Our expert staff is prepared to answer any questions or concerns you may have.