Labour is typically the last phase of a pregnancy followed by the delivery of the baby and usually involves three stages – shortening and opening of the cervix, descent and birth of the baby and delivery of the placenta. Every woman’s experience of labour is different. Hence, it is difficult to categorize the feeling of ‘being in labour’, however, there are certain signs of labour approaching that may help you know when you are in labour, like –
- A severe lower back pain or abdominal pain with cramps.
- Painful contractions that might be irregular in nature.
- Broken waters; which is sign of rupturing of your membrane.
- Disrupted sleeping pattern and feeling strong emotions.
You might experience one or more of these early signs of labour. There is a significant amount of time between pre-labour and labour, ranging from hours to even days; however, sometimes there can be an overlap between labour and pre-labour. In several cases, women are able to work out when labour started after they have been through it.
Read further to see answers to some common queries that women have about labour –
What is Braxton Hicks? How do they feel?
Braxton Hicks, in layman’s language, are ‘false contractions’ as they don’t open the cervix. They make you wonder whether ‘I am in labour’ or are these labour pain symptoms; but they aren’t. Most women describe these contractions as a feeling of mild menstrual cramps while some refer to it as tightening in the abdomen that comes and goes. If you are in doubt whether the contracts are braxton hicks or real contractions, it’s better to err on the safer side and go to the hospital.
How do I count contractions?
Contractions are the intermittent tightening of the uterine muscles and start during the pre-labour period, of a mild nature, till the delivery of the baby, intense in nature. You can think of a contraction as a wave, with a dull pain in the start that gradually reaches its peak and then slowly subsides away. There is a significant rest time between each contraction, each contraction lasting less than a minute. While timing contractions, count from the beginning of one to the beginning of another.
What does water breaking feel like?
Water breaking means that your amniotic sac has ruptured; it signifies that labour is about to happen (or might be underway). Some women describe water breaking as a gush while some don’t even realize because it’s just a trickle. To easily determine whether your water has broken, put on a dry pad or panty liner and lie down for some time. If it’s amniotic fluid then it will pool in your vagina. In case you are not sure, you should talk to the doctor because it is ideal to have the delivery within 24 hours of water breaking, because, in several cases, otherwise, it gives rise to complications.
Just relax and know that everything will be fine. If you are already in pre-labour then try to take rest or do something that will distract you like watching a movie or taking a relaxing shower. You can also choose to do some simple yoga postures that help in easy delivery. Don’t panic; just think that every little thing (contraction or the water breaking) is taking you closer to your baby. Make sure your hospital bag is ready and packed with the breast feeding must-haves. You can read our blog to help you pack what you need.
Happy Birthing Mama 🙂