How Do I Know if I’m in Labor?
by Stef Daniel
Oh boy (or girl)!
If you are pregnant, you may find yourself becoming more and more concerned about delivering your baby at some fast food restaurant. Perhaps you are feeling too inexperienced, worried you won’t recognize the signs once you are truly in labor. Rest assured, the vast majority of women make it to the hospital in plenty of time. When labor is upon you … you will know it.
Only 1% of pregnancies will ever end in a sudden, intense urge to push with no previous labor symptoms!
There are various symptoms you will experience once you’re in labor. Certainly, many women are misled by these symptoms, often nothing more than Braxton Hicks contractions, during the later months of pregnancy. Still, contractions are definitely a sign of labor.
The consistency and duration of your contractions are what matter most. Track them. If they continue to come faster and harder – chances are you’re in labor.
If you are gauging “real labor” by contractions alone, it is important to ascertain whether or not the intensity of your pain and contractions change when you move your body into a new position. Real labor will not go away because you lie down or take a walk. If you suspect that you’re in labor, start timing your contractions with a clock. Are they getting closer together? One thing to keep in mind is that the average time that first-time mother will labor for is about nine hours. For mothers who have had previous children, about six hours. So don’t worry, you definitely have time!
A lot of women and doctors say that losing the mucous plug, and having cervical dilation are indications that labor is about to begin. In a textbook pregnancy, yes; these are indicators. However, most women aren’t textbook. You could lose your mucous plug and not go into labor until the following week; or lose it, and go into labor within hours. The point is this: if you notice any changes in your cervical mucus and discharge, or find that it’s bloody, report this to your midwife or doctor immediately. As for dilation, your doctor will have to give you that information. Many women stay dilated at three to four centimeters for a few weeks, before actually going into labor. Others won’t dilate at all before “the day” arrives.
What do you think? How Do I Know if I’m in Labor?