As you approach the 40th week of pregnancy, it's natural to start wondering about the signs of labor approaching. It's essential to be aware of the early signs of labor, including silent labor signs, so that you can be prepared for the arrival of your little one. When the third trimester hits, the nervousness and anticipation of childbirth also kick in. That's why having your hospital bag packed and ready to go is crucial. Before we discuss the signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away, let's understand labor itself.
What Is Labor?
Labor is the complete process of childbirth. Labor starts with the contraction of the uterus, which is the main reason for expecting moms to begin feeling the pain. So, pain is usually the most prominent sign of labor. Then comes the cervical dilation stage, which ends with the baby's delivery. By this time, you should be ready with your hospital bag and ready to rush to the hospital for childbirth.
Signs Of Labor Approaching
As you approach 40 weeks of pregnancy, you may wonder about signs of labor, particularly if you're 40 weeks pregnant with no signs of labor yet. However, there are certain signs of labor approaching that you should be aware of.
• Strong, frequent contractions- The early signs of labor include silent labor signs, such as solid and regular contractions. The uterus muscles will start to tighten up, and the contractions will become stronger and closer together as childbirth approaches. If you're unsure whether these are signs of going into labor, ask yourself these questions:
- Are the contractions evenly spaced?
- How long do the contractions last?
- Are the contractions strong?
If your contractions or silent labor signs are strong, lasting between 30 – 70 seconds, and are 5 – 10 minutes apart, this indicates active labor symptoms, and you are about to deliver.
• Bloody show – If you have brownish or reddish mucus discharge, your mucus plug is out, and you are in labor. This is known as a blood show.
• Belly and lower back pain – Back pains are common during pregnancy but usually go away if you lie down or change positions. If you experience back and belly pain that does not go away even if you rest or switch positions, that is a sign that active labor has kicked in.
• Water breaking – Well, that's the ultimate sign labor has started. Your baby floats in a sack full of amniotic fluid inside your womb. You will feel a big rush of water flowing out of your vagina when the water breaks.
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Silent Labor Signs Or Early Signs Of Labor
Also known as pre-labor symptoms, there are specific labor pains symptoms you might experience that indicate that labor is near but hasn't begun yet. Here are those signs.
• Baby drops – Suddenly, you will feel a lot less pressure on your lungs, and you will be able to breathe better. On the contrary, the strain on your bladder and lower back will increase, and you will pee more frequently. This is because the baby takes its position for vaginal birth. This is known as 'Baby Drop.'
• Cervical dilation – It might not be easy to realize if this happens. Still, during your weekly check-ups in the final weeks of your third trimester, your doctor will check for cervical dilation, one of the signs of impending labor.
• Cramps and increased back pain – Back pain starts around the second trimester and lasts through the pregnancy. But as your labor could be near, the cramps and back pain would peak, and you might constantly feel uncomfortable, no matter how comfortably you sit or lie down.
• Loosening of joints – To prepare the body for childbirth, your body releases a hormone called relaxin a few days before labor. This hormone is responsible for loosening your joints and ligaments to prepare for delivery.
• Diarrhea – The relaxin also loosens up the rectum muscles, thus leading to pre-labor diarrhea.
• Weight loss – Your body will start losing excess water towards the end of your third trimester due to diarrhea and frequent urination. This would result in losing up to a KG or two due to bodily water loss.
Fatigue and the nesting instinct – A day or two before the labor would begin, your fatigue level would peak. You will also naturally feel the instinct to clean and prepare the house and keep everything perfect for your baby's arrival. This is called 'Nesting.'
How Can I Tell True Signs of Labor and False Alarms Apart?
Sometimes what you might assume to be early signs of labor or silent labor signs at 37 weeks or earlier can be just Braxton hicks contractions. They feel just like labor but are a false alarm. On the other hand, some women experience frequent Braxton hicks contractions in the final weeks before actual signs of labor are approaching. Here is how you can tell the two apart.
False Alarm (Braxton Hicks)
How regular are the contractions
The contractions are regular and last 30 – 70 seconds each.
They are irregular and do not get closer each time. They usually happen after exhausting physical activity.
How strong are the contractions
The contractions keep getting stronger over time, making it difficult for you to walk or talk.
They are painful but do not get stronger over time. They reduce if you take a walk or change position.
If you have had a false labor, it is the right time to start doing exercises to have a vaginal delivery, as these exercises will help you create a flexible body for childbirth. And if you are past 40 weeks and there is no sign of labor, you can also try some safe exercises to induce labor.
What Is Preterm Labor?
For a singleton pregnancy, almost 90% of pregnancies reach the 37th week of pregnancy and experience labor signs at 37 weeks or later. However, some expecting moms often experience early contractions and go into labor before the 37th week. This is known as preterm labor. Immediately call or visit your gynecologist if you experience any signs and symptoms mentioned in the article before the 37th week.
Labor pains and childbirth might sound scary to a few, but your body has been preparing for it for the last nine months. So, it is time to relax, be stress-free, and bring a new life into this world. You got it, mamma!
As the due date approaches, many women start experiencing labor signs indicating the delivery time is almost here. Some of the common signs of labor approaching include contractions, backache, water breaking, and bloody show. It's essential to keep track of these silent labor signs and notify your healthcare provider when they occur.
It's also crucial to have a birth plan in place that outlines your preferences for labor and delivery. This plan should include your preferred pain management options, whether you want a natural birth or a c-section, and who you want to be present during the delivery.
During signs of labor approaching, it's essential to stay calm, breathe deeply, and trust your body's ability to give birth. Remember that labor can be intense and painful, but it's a temporary phase that will ultimately lead to the birth of your baby.
In conclusion, as the delivery time approaches, it's essential to be aware of the labor signs, have a birth plan in place, and stay calm during labor. With proper preparation and support, you can have a positive birth experience and welcome your new bundle of joy into the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the common signs of labor approaching that indicate that the delivery time is almost here?
Answer: The common signs of labor that indicate that the delivery time is almost here include contractions, backache, water breaking, and bloody show.
When should I notify my healthcare provider about my early signs of labor?
Answer: It's essential to notify your healthcare provider when experiencing any labor signs. This will allow them to monitor your progress and provide any necessary support.
Why is it essential to have a birth plan in place before delivery?
Answer: Having a birth plan before delivery helps ensure that your preferences for labor and delivery are respected. It also enables you to feel more in control and prepared for the birth of your baby.
What should be included in a birth plan?
Answer: A birth plan should include your preferred pain management options, whether you want a natural birth or a c-section, who you want to be present with during the delivery, and any other preferences for the birthing process.