Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Knowing if You're in Labor

How will I know if I am in Labor?

When should I go to the hospital?
This is a hard question to answer. It will vary depending on many things. For example:
  • How far do you live form the hospital?
  • Have you had any children before?
  • If you have had children before, did you have a fast labor?
If you are not sure about what may be happening to you, call your health care provider. You should always call right away if you have any of these signs:
  • Baby is moving less or is not moving at all
  • Severe headache
  • Fever
  • Blurred Vision
  • Sudden gush of fluid from you vagina (birth canal)
  • Flow of blood from your vagina
  • Swollen hands
  • Sharp pain in your back, stomach or both
  • Bloody, bad-smelling, brownish or greenish fluid from your vagina
How can I tell I am going into labor?
  • Signs of labor can be different from each woman. They may start a few weeks, a few days, or even a few hours before you are ready to give birth.
  • Some women have clear signs of labor. Their labor pains (contractions) are hard and regular.
  • Some women have labor pains (contractions) that are not as hard. Their contractions may start and stop over a period of time.
  • Contractions are not the only sign that labor is about to begin. You may have some or all of the following changes:

    "Lightening" or "Dropping"
    • If this is your first baby, your baby may settle of "drop" into your pelvis about two weeks before labor begins.
    • If this is not your first baby, your baby may wait until you go into labor to "drop".
    • After the baby "drops", you have more room to breathe. You may also have less heartburn since there is less pressure against your stomach.
    • You may have more pressure on your bladder after the baby "drops" and need to go to the bathroom more often.

     Amniotic membranes or "Bag of Water" Breaks
    • Your amniotic membranes may break before labor starts.
    • For most women, the amniotic membranes usually break late in labor.
    • When your amniotic membranes break, you may feel a "gush" or a "tickle."
    • If you think your "bag of water" has broken, call your health care provider's office immediately.

    • Some women feel a sudden "burst of energy" just before labor starts. If this happens to you, please rest so you will have energy for labor.

    Weight Loss
    • Some women lose about 1-3 pounds that day before labor starts.

    Upset Stomach
    • Some women have indigestion, loose stools (mild diarrhea), an upset stomach, or vomit just before they go into labor. Some women say they just "felt different" the day they went into labor.
    Mucous Plug
    • You may see "pink mucus" coming from your vagina over a period of hours or even days. This is your mucous plug.
    • Dark red, bright red, or heavy bleeding from you vagina is danger sign. Get to the hospital right away. You may need to go by ambulance. Call 911 if you need to go by ambulance.

False Labor
Contractions or "pains":
  • Are not getting closer togerther,
  • Are usually irregular and short,
  • Are not getting stronger or "harder,"
  • Usually feel better with walking,
  • Are usually felt in front or in the lower tummy area.
If you are not sure if you are in labor or not:
  • Drink two glasses of water.
  • Lie on your left side
  • If contractions do not go away after one hour, call your health care provider.

True Labor
Contractions or "pains":
  • Are not regular at first, but become regular and closer together;
  • Do not go away if you lie down;
  • Are getting stronger or "harder" if walking;
  • Are felt low in the front, back, or both;
  • Feel like bad menstrual  or period cramps.

Timing Contractions
To time contractions:
  • Write the time each contraction starts on a piece of paper.
  •  See how far apart your contractions are by counting the minutes between the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next contraction.
  • Call your health care provider when you have 10 contractions in a row that are five minutes or less apart.
  • This will be about 10-12 contractions in one hour.

    Don't be afraid to call if you have questions or concerns. Your health care provider wants to help you have a safe delivery and a healthy baby. 

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