How to know you are in labor

cervical_mucus_plugThe Mucus Plug – Bloody Show

Perhaps your mucus plug will come out.

This is sometimes called the “bloody show” because of the pink tinge or red seen in the mucous.

If it’s clear or yellowish mucous, not pink or a bit blood stained, it’s not the real thing, YET.

Not all mothers will notice a bloody show.

If you see blood, call your care provider. Together you can determine how much blood, and why.

mucus-plug

Braxton Hicks or Actual Contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions are the warm up for labor. True contractions will be significantly stronger .

Actual contractions are less likely to stop and will be more frequent and closer together. You’ve probably heard that when the contractions are 5 minutes apart, it’s time to call your care provider. This is generally true.

Practice labor is not uncommon. To call Braxton Hicks “False Labor” is inaccurate because those contractions are REAL, and they do help bring the baby. They count!

Don’t be shy about calling your midwife or care provider if you think you’ve begun labor. She or he is accustomed to “test runs,” so don’t be embarrassed if you have one or two, or more

You can help bring labor on by “leaning in,” embracing rather than pulling back from the sensation. Things will get much more intense, so better to accept the minor discomfort now and begin preparing mentally and spiritually for what is to come.

Bali, Indonesia: 9th November 2011.  CNN Heroes Robin Lim helps  a young Balinese women deliver a baby  at her clinic she runs in Ubud Bali, Indonesia. (Photos by Palani Mohan/Reportage by Getty images) C 2011 Cable News Network. A time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.

Bali, Indonesia: 9th November 2011. CNN Heroes Robin Lim helps a young Balinese women deliver a baby at her clinic she runs in Ubud Bali, Indonesia. (Photos by Palani Mohan/Reportage by Getty images)
C 2011 Cable News Network. A time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.

The Water Bag Breaks – The Release of Amniotic Fluid

water_breaksIf your feel a gush of fluid, that does not smell like urine, you water or amniotic fluid may have released, meaning the walls of the amniotic sak or “water bag” have ruptured. This is quite normal and even to be expected.

You may also sense a loss of body temperature. Sometimes the fluid will have little white flecks of vernix, the creamy coating of the baby’s skin.

Your midwife or doctor can use litmus paper to determine if your baby’s waters have released.

If or when your waters break, try to soak up he liquid with a white towel, so you can see if it is clear or not.

If the amniotic fluid has a yellow or green tinge to it, tell your midwife or doctor immediately, as this could indicate the baby has passed meconium, which is a newborn bowel movement.  It may mean the baby is mature and ready for birth.

If the  meconium is thick like pea soup, this can indicate that the baby had some distress. Special attention to watch for other stress indicators, such as an increasingly rapid heartbeat, will need to be monitored throughout the labor.

If your waters have released, and this is not your first baby, you should go directly to the birth clinic, hospital or if you are having a home birth, call the midwife.

After the waters have released, labor usually beings quite spontaneously, and mother will often find that  labor advances to a new level, if not right away, within a few hours. If it does not, you midwife will have some tricks-or-the-trade, to help encourage labor to earnestly begin.

A midwife or care provider may even manually rupture a water bag in order to help stimulate labor.

However once the water bag is broken, most hospitals require that a vaginal delivery must take place within 12 hours. If labor fails to progress, then a cesarean section will be required to expedite the delivery. The reason for this is the risk of bacterial infection in the birth canal.

When the water bag breaks, pay close attention to hygiene.

  • No tub baths. You may take showers.I
  • f you are planning a water birth, wait to get into the tub until you are in active labor and have dilated 5 centimeters or more.
  • You should not make love.
  • Nothing that is not absolutely sterile should enter your vagina.
  • When using the toilet always wipe from front to back, so as not to introduce bacteria into your vagina.
    This is good hygiene always, but especially important if your waters have released, because now the baby is no longer sealed safely away from bacteria.

The Stair Steps to Labor

When the contractions feel strong, breathe through them, and try to relax. Let the endorphins flow.

Usually after a few contractions, you can integrate them better, and it does not seem so intense.

As labor progresses, and the contractions become more intense again, going up to a new level, remember that it did that before, and you DID learn how to integrate them, you handled it just fine. With this new intensity, you can do that again.

Think of it like stair steps.
You go up to a new level, and then plateau for a while.

When the next stair step rises, the more you have faith in your capacity to cope, the smoother it will go. Have Faith that your body knows what it’s doing. Stay out of labor’s way, let your body do it.

Sometimes you just have to ride the wave, surrender to the force. When you BELIEVE in yourself, it all unfolds perfectly.

Some women get meditative in their surrender to the strength and intensity of the contractions. It’s almost like self-hypnosis. When you surrender, the pain is there, but it feels like less. Even though the contractions grow stronger, it’s not hurting as much as it did in early labor, because you are handling it and surrendering more and even better than before.

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