You are inching your way closer to your estimated due date. This week is your thirty-sixth week of pregnancy. As the days go by, you may be starting to wonder if you are ever going to actually have your baby. You may be analyzing every cramp, ache, or feeling of wetness. In this week’s newsletter, we are going to be discussing just what’s on your mind: signs of labor. We will tell you the things to look for to let you know that you may have started labor. You may know some of the signs and symptoms of labor, but you may be wondering how to tell the difference between real labor and false labor. We are going to be discussing false labor in this week’s newsletter as well.
What Is Going on with Mom & Baby
Baby is the size of a swiss chard!
Baby: Baby’s crown to rump length is around 35 cm (13.8 inches). Your baby weighs about 2850-2950 grams (6.3-6.5 pounds). Over the next few weeks, your baby will continue to put on fat. You may notice that he feels a little lower in your abdomen. This is called “lightening." It is the result of your baby’s head shifting down into your pelvis.
Mom: You may notice an increase in vaginal discharge. This is common during the last few weeks of pregnancy. If you notice mucus tinged with blood, also called a bloody show, this may be a sign that labor is starting.
This Week’s Pregnancy Checklist
- Make sure your partner knows where your hospital bag is.
- Make a belly cast of your belly.
- Practice lamaze breathing or other pain relief techniques.
- Some moms like to drink raspberry leaf tea at the end of their pregnancy. (Talk to your doctor first). Have your partner practice timing contractions. Braxton Hicks are great for practice.
- Take a new belly picture for your scrapbook or journal.
Signs of Labor
Here are some of the common signs of labor.
Nesting: Many women begin to “nest” right before they go into labor. Nesting is a word used to describe preparing your baby’s nest. You may feel the need to get your house super clean or perhaps you may start cooking lots of freezer meals.
Dropping or lightening: As your baby descends into your pelvis, you may notice that your baby’s position has dropped. Sometimes this is obvious, and other times, you won’t notice this at all.
Cramping or Pelvic pressure: You may notice menstrual-like cramping or achiness, or you may sense more pressure in your pelvic area. Some women describe this feeling as if their baby feels like she might “fall out.”
Cervical dilation or effacement: As your body prepares to give birth your cervix will begin to thin out and dilate. Your doctor may begin doing cervical checks at the end of your pregnancy. Cervical effacement and dilation are a good indicator that labor might start soon.
Mucous plug or bloody show: The mucous plug seals the entrance to your cervix. You may lose your mucous plug a little at a time or all at once. Some women lose their mucous plug weeks before labor starts. If you notice that you have lost your mucous plug or if you see mucous tinged with blood, this may be a sign that labor may start soon. Blood-tinged mucus is called a bloody show. Many women have a bloody show shortly before labor begins.
Contractions: At the start of labor, you may have contractions that are ten to fifteen minutes apart. As your labor progresses, your contractions will become more regular and closer together. You may be advised to call your doctor once your contractions are five minutes apart; however, you will want to consult your doctor for specific instructions on when to head to the hospital.
Water breaking: If your water breaks you may feel a “pop,” followed by a gush of water, or you may just feel a small trickle. Some women even feel like they have urinated. If you think your water has broken, call your doctor right away.
Real Labor or False Labor
False labor is a word used to describe symptoms that feel like real labor but are not. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between real labor and false labor. Surprisingly, it is sometimes even more difficult for moms who have had a baby before to tell when they are in labor. You may have more Braxton Hicks contractions with each pregnancy, and it may become difficult to tell the difference between Braxon Hicks and the real thing.
Here are some of the differences between false labor and real labor.
How far apart are your contractions?
Real labor contractions: Occur at regular intervals and get progressively closer together over time.
False labor contractions: Do not occur at regular intervals. For example, you might have two or three contractions that are five minutes apart then not have another one for thirty minutes, then have the next one in ten minutes, then not another for thirty minutes. False labor contractions do not get progressively closer together.
How intense or painful are your contractions?
Real labor contractions: Real labor contractions may be difficult to breathe through, become stronger and more intense over time, and you may feel pelvic pressure with each contraction.
False labor contractions: Although false labor contractions may be painful, they usually do not get progressively worse. You may have a contraction or two that is painful followed by contractions that just feel like tightening of your abdomen.
Do your contractions improve with change of position or drinking fluids?
Real labor contractions: If you are having real labor contractions, changing positions or drinking plenty of fluids will not make them go away.
False labor contractions: Dehydration can lead to false labor contractions. If you notice that you are having contractions, drink a large glass of water and see if they improve. Changing positions will also help to relieve Braxton Hicks contractions.
What if you are not sure how to describe your contractions?
If you are not sure if your contractions are more like Braxton Hicks contractions or real contractions, it is always best to contact your doctor.