Giving Birth - Signs of labor
Giving birth is preceded by the position of the baby changing from being just under the rib cage (above the pelvis) and descending into the pelvis. This may occur over a couple of days or occur rapidly. Taking deeper breaths becomes easier as the baby’s head lowers down into the pelvis which is why the term “lightening” is used to describe the descent into the pelvis. Mothers may also not feel full as quickly when they are eating, once the baby’s head drops away from the ribcage into the pelvis. In the majority of first time moms this “lightening” is felt a couple of weeks to a month before giving birth. This is not always the case, as a smaller percentage of first time mothers, do experience the baby’s station dropping down into the pelvis just prior to labor and delivery. Another sign that lightening has happened is that urinary frequency may start due to the baby’s head pressing down on the bladder. Lightening in women who have already given birth may occur just prior to labor. Pelvic pain during pregnancy may also be felt as bladder pressure, and pressure on the rectum once lightening has occurred.
Giving birth for the first time, expectant mothers are more often than not, given fair warning, with signs of labor presenting themselves, such as: contractions that become longer and more frequent, a watery vaginal discharge (water breaks) that may be also contain mucus and be tinged with blood (bloody show), and the cervix dilating.
Giving birth usually happens within 24 hours after the first signs of labor in first time mothers. Contractions may start months before “true labor”, these are known as Braxton Hicks contractions that may occur sporadically, usually with little pain, and come in intervals of 10 to 20 minutes. Braxton Hicks contractions may become stronger and a little more frequent the closer you get to the “due date”. These contractions may be interpreted as “true labor” when in fact they turn out to be “false labor”.
First time mothers commonly feel contractions becoming longer and more frequent when “true labor” manifests. First time mothers prepare to go to the hospital when their water has broken, bloody show presents, contractions occur every three to five minutes and last for a minute, and the cervix dilates. Tracking the interval between contractions and how long the contractions last will help you to determine when “true labor” is occurring and when to go to the hospital. Inform your obstetrician when your water breaks, the baby stops moving or moves less, your contraction intervals are 5 minutes apart or become very painful, or you are bleeding (more than spotting). Now is the time to go to the hospital for labor, delivery, and giving birth to your new baby. You can call (954) 538-1300 for an appointment at the Miramar Center or (954) 518-4100 for an appointment in our Hollywood Center or request an appointment online.