How to listen to labor symptoms and know when baby is really on the way.
Whether this is your first baby or fourth, more than likely, you’ve got a bag packed for the hospital and sitting by the front door. (If you don’t, you should!) You’ve probably also got checklists on the fridge for family to get the mail, feed the pets and water the plants while you’re away. (Same here!)
You’re as ready as you can be for baby to come. Being prepared is a great way to bring peace of mind to an otherwise stressful situation.
But, when do you really know when it’s time to head to the hospital?
Every woman’s journey is different and unique, but there are some signs of labor to look for as you’re waiting for baby’s arrival. Some are conveniently obvious, such as contractions and water breaking. But, other signs are more subtle.
Signs of Labor
- Your water breaks. In only about 15 percent or less of women, water will break. If you’re fortunate to experience this obvious sign of labor, you know beyond a doubt that it’s time to head for the hospital. But, if you’re reading this blog, it’s likely because you may be experiencing more subtle signs. Keep reading to learn more.
- You’re having consistent contractions. These will become stronger and more frequent during labor onset. This is where all that knowledge from childbirth classes will kick in. Using a timer (there’s lots of apps for this in the App Store and on Android), time your contractions. If they are consistently happening every few minutes, it’s time to go to the hospital.
Subtle Signs of Labor
These signs are less obvious and can be more gradual. You’ll want to keep in touch with your doctor if you’re experiencing them. He or she can help you determine when to get in the car.
- The baby “drops.” This means your baby is getting into position for delivery, low within your pelvis.
- Your cervix dilates. During each visit as the due date draws near, your doctor checks whether your cervix is starting to dilate, or open, and/or efface, or thin out.
- You experience vaginal discharge and/or a change in color and consistency.
- You have diarrhea, loose-feeling joints, cramps, worsening back pain and fatigue.
When to Call the Doctor During Late-Term Pregnancy
If you’re not sure whether you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s always best to call your provider, even if it’s after business hours. He or she will help you know if it’s time to hit the road for the hospital.
Definitely give your doctor a call and head to the hospital in these situations:
- Your water breaks
- You notice bright-red discharge (blood)
- You develop a severe headache, blurred vision or sudden swelling. These are signs of preeclampsia.