Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring During Labor

What is Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring?

Fetal heart rate monitoring is a procedure used to evaluate the well-being of the fetus by assessing the rate and rhythm and the presence or absence of accelerations (increases) or decelerations (decreases) of the fetal heartbeat. It also checks how much the fetal heart rate changes around the baseline. The average fetal heart rate is between 110 and 160 beats per minute and can vary five to 25 beats per minute. The fetal heart rate may change as the fetus responds to conditions in the uterus. An abnormal fetal heart rate or pattern may mean that the fetus is not getting enough oxygen or there are other problems. An abnormal pattern also may mean that an emergency cesarean delivery is needed. 

How is fetal monitoring performed? 

Using a handheld Doppler (a type of ultrasound) to listen and measure the response of the fetus’s heart rate to contractions of the uterus. This is often used during prenatal visits to count the fetal heart rate or in a pregnancy less than 24 weeks. Electronic fetal monitoring is used in late pregnancy to evaluate the fetus or to check fetal well-being during labor. It provides an ongoing record that can be read. The procedure for monitoring the fetal heart rate is painless, but internal monitoring can be uncomfortable. There are very few risks associated with this procedure, so it’s routinely done on all women in labor and delivery. 

  • The gel is applied to the mother’s abdomen to act as a medium for the ultrasound transducer.
  • The ultrasound transducer is attached to the abdomen with straps and transmits the fetal heartbeat to a recorder. The fetal heart rate is displayed on a screen and printed onto special paper.
  • During contractions, an external tocodynamometer (a monitoring device that is placed over the top of the uterus with a belt) can record the patterns of contractions.
  • Sometimes, internal fetal monitoring is necessary for a more accurate reading of the fetal heart rate. Your bag of waters (amniotic fluid) must be broken and your cervix must be partially dilated to use internal monitoring. Internal fetal monitoring involves inserting an electrode through the dilated cervix and attaching the electrode to the scalp of the fetus, called a fetal scalp electrode.

There are two methods for fetal heart rate monitoring

  • External fetal heart rate monitoring uses a device to listen to or record the fetal heartbeat through the mother’s abdomen. One type of monitor is a hand-held electronic Doppler ultrasound device. This method is often used during prenatal visits to count the fetal heart rate. A Doppler device may also be used to check the fetal heart rate at regular intervals during labor. Continuous electronic fetal heart monitoring may be used during labor and birth. An ultrasound transducer placed on the mother’s abdomen conducts the sounds of the fetal heart to a computer. The rate and pattern of the fetal heart are displayed on the computer screen and printed onto the special graph paper.
  • Internal fetal heart rate monitoring uses an electronic transducer connected directly to the fetal scalp.  A wire called an electrode is used. It is placed on the part of the fetus closest to the cervix, usually the scalp. This type of electrode is sometimes called a spiral or scalp electrode. Internal monitoring provides a more accurate and consistent transmission of the fetal heart rate than external monitoring because factors such as movement do not affect it. Uterine contractions also may be monitored with a special tube called an intrauterine pressure catheter that is inserted through the vagina into your uterus. Internal monitoring can be used only after the membranes of the amniotic sac have ruptured (after “your water breaks” or is broken). Internal monitoring may be used when external monitoring of the fetal heart rate is inadequate, or closer surveillance is needed. After internal fetal heart rate monitoring, the electrode site on the newborn baby will be examined for infection, bruising, or a laceration. The site may be cleansed with an antiseptic.

Risk:

Fetal monitoring is widely used. There are no known risks to using the fetoscope, Doppler, or external monitoring. There may be a slight risk of infection with internal monitoring. The scalp electrode may also cause a mark or small cut on the baby’s head, but this usually heals quickly. An abnormal fetal heart rate pattern does not always mean the fetus is in danger. Electronic fetal monitoring is widely used in the United States. However, studies have found that the use of electronic fetal monitoring is associated with a greater chance for vacuum and forceps use with vaginal deliveries, and for cesarean delivery.

Benefits:

Fetal monitoring may help with a possible recognition of problems in the fetus. Other testing or delivery may be necessary.

Why is fetal heart rate monitoring done during labor and delivery?

Fetal heart rate monitoring may help detect changes in the normal heart rate pattern during labor. If certain changes are detected, steps can be taken to help treat the underlying problem. Fetal heart rate monitoring also can help prevent treatments that are not needed. A normal fetal heart rate can reassure both you and your obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) or other health care professional that it is safe to continue labor if no other problems are present.

What happens if the fetal heart rate pattern is abnormal?

Abnormal fetal heart rate patterns do not always mean there is a problem. Other tests may be done to get a better idea of what is going on with your fetus.

If there is an abnormal fetal heart rate pattern, your ob-gyn or other health care professional will first try to find the cause. Steps can be taken to help the fetus get more oxygen, such as having you change position. If these procedures do not work, or if further test results suggest your fetus has a problem, your ob-gyn or other health care professional may decide to deliver right away. In this case, the delivery is more likely to be by cesarean birth or with forceps or vacuum-assisted 

There is no special type of care required after external fetal heart rate monitoring. You may resume your normal diet and activity unless your health care provider advises you differently.

Your health care provider may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Postpartum Hair Loss

Postpartum hair loss is a normal and temporary, however, not all women experience postpartum hair loss, but it is quite common. Fortunately, this is a totally temporary situation. Typically, it’ll take three to four months for the hair growth phase to cycle through.

During pregnancy, your hormones change dramatically. Hormones are the biggest reason for your pregnancy hair changes and postpartum hair loss.

So after your baby arrives and your hormone levels drop, your hair makes up for the lost time by falling out in much bigger clumps than it normally does. The total volume of your hair loss probably isn’t more than you would have lost over the last nine months, it just seems like it because it’s happening all at once.

Postpartum hair loss can set in any day after your baby arrives, and it sometimes continues as long as a year. It usually peaks around the 4-month mark, so if your baby is a few months old and you’re still losing clumps of hair, that doesn’t mean it’s time to panic!

Causes

While breastfeeding is often blamed for hair loss, there is no evidence to show that breastfeeding causes or increases hair loss in the postpartum period. Unfortunately, this is a symptom that almost all moms will experience. While this condition can become extreme (called Postpartum Alopecia) some hair loss is normal and a natural part of postpartum. Most moms will experience this symptom somewhere around three months postpartum. It can last a few weeks or a few months, depending on how long your hair cycles last. Often moms forget that they are still considered postpartum by this point and don’t think to relate childbirth to this symptom.

Blame it on hormones. During pregnancy, estrogen increases, which typically encourages hair growth and improves texture. But in the postpartum period, estrogen levels drop. Plus, you may have vitamin deficiencies lingering from pregnancy.  All these factors along with the exhaustion that accompanies being a new parent can lead to hair loss.

The other reason is that when you are pregnant your hair goes into a dormant cycle and you lose less hair. This is called the telogen phase. Eventually, your hair will go into the next phase (telogen effluvium) and fall out. Therefore, when you have the baby you start losing all of the hair that you didn’t lose when you were pregnant. The hair loss and regrowth will probably be most apparent in the area above your forehead. If you gained a lot of extra hair when you were pregnant, this can look quite dramatic.

How to Handle Postpartum Shedding

It’s normal for your hair to thin out after pregnancy. If it’s not worrying you, you don’t need to do anything to treat it. And, unfortunately, there is nothing that has been shown to prevent or slow postpartum hair loss. But if your hair loss is bothering you, there are treatments you can try to make your hair appear fuller and healthier.

  • Skip the styling

Heating your hair with a dryer or curling iron may make it look thinner. Try to hold off on fancy styling and let your hair air-dry till the thinning tapers out. Brushing too hard can also cause your hair to fall out in bigger clumps, so be gentle when brushing and don’t brush more than once a day. You can use the extra time to cuddle your baby or catch up on sleep!

  • Consider a haircut

It may sound counterintuitive, says Sheppard, but a short ‘do can disguise thinning hair. If you’re ready for a change, try a bob, lob, or pixie cut, she recommends—with shorter hair, you’ll naturally have more volume because you’ll have removed the weight.

  • Eat right

What you eat can help control hair loss. Aim to get lots of protein, vitamin-rich foods, green leafy vegetables, and eggs and dairy. Taking vitamin D, B-complex vitamins, and omega-3 is recommended to help reduce postpartum hair loss.

  • Switch up your product routine

If your postpartum hair is very different from your pregnancy hair or your pre-pregnancy strands it only makes sense to try different products. Look for options that include the words volumizing or thickening in their name or description. A new shampoo is also a good idea.

  • Take your vitamins

Vitamins shouldn’t be a substitute for a varied diet, especially when you’re a new mom with a baby to take care of. But they may help as a supplement if your diet is not well-balanced. While no specific vitamins have been shown to affect hair loss, they are important for overall health. It is often recommended to continue your prenatal vitamins after your baby is born, especially if you are breastfeeding.

When to Talk to Your Practitioner

Usually, by the time your hair begins to thin, you have already had your postpartum checkup with your doctor or midwife. If your shedding becomes extreme or you are losing large patches of hair, call your practitioner and mention it. Occasionally hair loss is the sign of other postpartum issues, like hypothyroidism. You want to be sure to rule those out. If you are still losing hair around your baby’s first birthday, call your practitioner. Typical hair loss does not usually continue that long into the postpartum period.

 

 

How to Prepare For a Cesarean Section

A Cesarean section, or C-section, is a procedure during which a baby is surgically delivered. This procedure is carried out when a vaginal birth isn’t possible when vaginal birth will put the mother’s or baby’s life at risk, A C-section is a form of surgery during which a doctor cuts through your belly and uterus to enable your baby to be born. In some circumstances, a c-section is scheduled in advance. In others, the surgery is needed due to an unforeseen complication. If you or your baby is in imminent danger, you’ll have an emergency c-section. Otherwise, it’s called an unplanned section.

The Preparation

If you are planning for a scheduled C-section or want to prepare yourself in the event an emergency C-section is necessary, you should be aware of the details of the procedure, get the necessary testing done, and create a hospital plan with your doctor. In most cases, a scheduled C-section will be done under a local anesthetic, so you will be awake during the operation. An epidural is administered in the spine to numb any feeling.

 

Why would I have an emergency c-section?

You may need to have an emergency c-section if problems arise that make continuing labor dangerous to you or your baby. These include the following:

  • Your baby’s heart rate gives your practitioner cause for concern, and she decides that your baby can’t withstand continued labor or induction.
  • The umbilical cord slips through your cervix (a prolapsed cord). If that happens, your baby needs to be delivered immediately because a prolapsed cord can cut off his oxygen supply.
  • Your placenta starts to separate from your uterine wall (placental abruption), which means your baby won’t get enough oxygen unless he’s delivered right away.
  • You’re attempting vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) and there’s concern about a uterine rupture at the site of your previous c-section incision.

 Why would I have a scheduled c-section?

In some cases, your doctor will recommend a c-section instead of a vaginal delivery. For example, you may require a planned c-section if:

  • You’ve had a previous cesarean with a “classical” vertical uterine incision (this is relatively rare) or more than one previous c-section. Both of these significantly increase the risk that your uterus will rupture during a vaginal delivery.
  • NOTE: If you’ve had only one previous c-section, with a horizontal uterine incision, you may be a good candidate for vaginal birth after cesarean or VBAC. (Note that the type of scar on your belly may not match the one on your uterus.) Or you may choose to have an elective c-section.
  • You’ve had some other kind of invasive uterine surgery, such as a myomectomy (the surgical removal of fibroids), which increases the risk that your uterus will rupture during a vaginal delivery.
  • You’re carrying more than one baby. (You might be able to deliver twins vaginally, or you may need a cesarean, depending on factors like how far along in the pregnancy you are when delivering and the positions of the twins.) The more babies you are carrying the more likely it is you’ll need a c-section.
  • Your baby is expected to be very large (a condition known as macrosomia). Your doctor is particularly likely to recommend a c-section in this case if you’re diabetic or you had a previous baby who suffered serious trauma during vaginal birth.
  • Your baby is in a breech or transverse position. (In some cases, such as a twin pregnancy in which the first baby is head down but the second baby is breech, the breech baby may be delivered vaginally.)
  • You’re near full-term and have placenta previa (when the placenta is so low in the uterus that it covers the cervix).
  • You have an obstruction, such as a large fibroid, that would make vaginal delivery difficult or impossible.
  • The baby has a known malformation or abnormality that would make a vaginal birth risky, such as some cases of open neural tube defects.
  • You’re HIV-positive, and blood tests done near the end of pregnancy show that you have a high viral load.

Should you be worried about a scheduled C-section?

Doctors will only advise a Caesarean section as a way to minimize the risks to you or your baby, which could arise from natural birth. A C-section is usually a more quick and controlled way of your baby being born.

If you are advised to have a scheduled C-section, it is likely because your doctor sees it as the safest way for your little one to be born. However, as with all major surgeries, it does carry some risks. You are more prone to bleeding and you can experience the side effects of an epidural, which your doctor will discuss with you.

If you have already made a birth plan before the decision to have a C-section was made, then it is still a good idea to take it with you to the hospital. Surgery can be a very scary thing but knowledge is power. If you know what is going to happen, you’ll feel much more confident about it.

What to pack for a scheduled C-section

Take note that you’ll be staying in the hospital a little longer after a scheduled C-section — most likely 2-3 days — and baby will be staying with you.

You’ll want to bring comfortable clothing and slippers. Go for items that are easy to maneuver if you are breastfeeding.

Also, remember that you won’t be able to get out of bed for the first 8-12 hours after surgery, while the epidural wears off. So make sure that the clothes you’ll bring are easy to put on and take off, for easier changing when needed.

Don’t worry too much about what to bring though, as you can always ask your partner or family members to bring anything you forget!

 What are the risks of having a c-section?

A c-section is major abdominal surgery, so it’s riskier than a vaginal delivery. Moms who have c-sections are more likely to have an infection, excessive bleeding, blood clots, more postpartum pain, a longer hospital stay, and a significantly longer recovery. Injuries to the bladder or bowel, although very rare, are also more common. It’s also possible that you’ll have a reaction to the medications or to the anesthesia.

Studies have found that babies born by elective c-section before 39 weeks are more likely to have breathing problems than babies who are delivered vaginally or by emergency c-section.

Not all c-sections can – or should – be prevented. In some situations, a c-section is necessary for the well-being of the mother, the baby, or both. Ask your practitioner exactly why he is recommending a c-section. Talk about the possible risks and advantages for you and your baby in your particular situation.

If you’re due to give birth to your little one by a scheduled C-section, don’t panic. Relax and think positive thoughts — you and your baby can do it!

 

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Resources:

https://www.wikihow.com/Prepare-for-a-Cesarean-Section

https://sg.theasianparent.com/how-to-plan-for-a-scheduled-c-section/

Water Birth: Benefits and Risks

Water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub of warm water. Some women choose to labor in the water and get out for delivery. Other women decide to stay in the water for the delivery as well. It is believed that water birth results in a more relaxed, less painful experience for mothers.

During a water birth, you’ll be submerged in water, usually in a stationary or inflatable tub, and you’ll birth your baby in the water. This may be a good option if you want the benefits of hydrotherapy, along with the benefits of delivering in a hospital. The theory behind water birth is that since the baby has already been in the amniotic fluid sac for nine months, birthing in a similar environment is gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother. Ask your hospital beforehand if they allow women to labor in water.

It can take place in a hospital, a birthing center, or at home. A doctor or midwife helps you through it. Beyond location, more and more women are choosing water births as the way their babies enter the world.

What are the benefits of water births?

Benefits for Mother:

  • Warm water is soothing, comforting, relaxing.
  • may help shorten the duration of labor.
  • Speed up your labor
  • Laboring in water may also decrease your need for epidurals or other spinal pain relief and more oxygen for the baby.
  • Labor in water may also have a lower cesarean section rate
  • The water seems to reduce stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins which serve as pain-inhibitors.
  • As the laboring woman relaxes physically, she is able to relax mentally with a greater ability to focus on the birth process.
  • Water provides a greater sense of privacy, it can reduce inhibitions, anxiety, and fears.
  • Floating in water helps you move around more easily than in bed.

Benefits for Baby:

  • Provides an environment similar to the amniotic sac.
  • Eases the stress of birth, thus increasing reassurance and sense of security.

What are the risks to the mother and baby?

  • You or your baby could get an infection.
  • chance of umbilical cord damage
  • trouble regulating the baby’s body temperature
  • Your baby could breathe in bath water.
  • Your baby could have seizures or not be able to breathe.
  • respiratory distress for baby

Water birthing may not be recommended if you have any of the following complications or symptoms:

  • maternal blood or skin infection
  • fever of 100.4 F (38°C) or higher
  • excessive vaginal bleeding
  • Difficulty tracking fetal heartbeat, or need for continuous tracing
  • history of shoulder dystocia
  • Sedation
  • carrying multiples

What situations are not ideal for water birth?

  • If your baby is breech: Although water birth has been done with bottom or feet first presentations, you should discuss this risk thoroughly with your healthcare provider.
  • If you are having multiples: Although water births have been successful around the world with twin births, you should discuss this risk thoroughly with your doctor.
  • If preterm labor is expected: If a baby is preterm (two weeks or more prior to due date), water birth is not recommended.
  • If there is severe meconium: Mild to moderate meconium is fairly normal. Since meconium floats to the surface in a tub, your health care provider will watch for it and remove it immediately, or help you out of the tub. Meconium usually washes off the face of the baby and even comes out of the nose and mouth while the baby is still under water. If the water is stained and birth is imminent, the woman can lift her pelvis out of the water to birth the infant.
  • If you have toxemia or preeclampsia: You should thoroughly discuss this risk with your healthcare provider.

Some science suggests that the water may lower chances of severe vaginal tearing. And it may improve blood flow to the uterus. But study results about these points aren’t clear.

You may also reach out to friends or family who has had previous water births to learn more about their experiences. What’s most important is choosing a birthing plan that’s right for you and your baby.

If you’re planning a water birth, it’s also a good idea to come up with a backup plan in case you have complications as your pregnancy progresses, or during labor.

There isn’t enough formal evidence to support the benefits or risks of labor and delivery while submerged in water. Much of what you will read is anecdotal. More research is needed to assess the benefits for both mother and baby.

 

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Prolonged Labor Management

What is Prolonged Labor?

Prolonged labor is also referred to as “failure to progress.” It occurs when labor goes on for about 18 to 24 hours after regular contractions begin. For twins, a labor that goes on for 16 hours is considered prolonged. New mothers, having their first baby, are expected to be in labor for a longer period of time, so prolonged labor may not be declared until 22 to 24 hours, whereas for the second- or third-time mothers may be considered prolonged after 16 to 18 hours. A prolonged latent phase happens during the first stage of labor. It can be exhausting and emotionally draining, but rarely leads to complications.

What Causes Prolonged Labor?

There are many potential causes of experiencing prolonged labor. During the latent phase, slow effacement of the cervix can cause labor time to increase. A baby that is very large may cause labor to take longer because it cannot move through the birth canal. The birthing canal is too small, or the woman’s pelvis is too small, delivery can take longer or fail to progress.

A breech position with the baby’s feet or bottom positioned to emerge first may also cause prolonged labor. Carrying multiples may also lead to prolonged labor, as might weak uterine contractions, or an incorrect position of the baby. Research has also linked prolonged labor or failure to progress to psychological factors, such as worry, stress, or fear. Additionally, certain pain medications can slow or weaken your contractions.

Treating Prolonged Labor

If labor is taking an unusually long time, a woman’s doctor or nurses will monitor her carefully for the timing of contractions and their strength. They will also monitor the fetal heart rate and the mother’s vital signs. If the prolonged labor continues, contractions seem too weak, or the health of the mother or baby is at risk, there are steps that can be taken to speed delivery.

If the baby is already in the birth canal, the doctor or midwife may use special tools called forceps or a vacuum device to help pull the baby out through the vagina.  If the baby has not progressed that far, the mother may need to take a medication, called Pitocin, to speed up and strengthen contractions. This medicine speeds up contractions and makes them stronger. If after your doctor feels like you are contracting enough and the labor is still stalled, you may need a C-section or if the baby is too big, or the medicine does not speed up delivery, you will also need a C-section. The Cesarean section may be the answer to several of the issues that cause prolonged labor. Nearly a third of C-sections are performed due to failure to progress. A Cesarean birth might be the best choice to avoid further complications.

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

What Happens to Your Body After Giving Birth

Many things are happening in your body right after you have a baby. During pregnancy, your body changed a lot. It worked hard to keep your baby safe and healthy. Now that your baby is here, your body is changing again. Some of these changes are physical, like your breasts getting full of milk. Others are emotional, like feeling extra stress.

Things that happen to your body after birth:

Afterbirth pains:

Afterbirth pains are belly cramps you feel as your uterus (womb) shrinks back to its regular size after pregnancy. The cramps should go away in a few days. Right after you give birth, your uterus is round and hard and weighs about 2½ pounds. By about 6 weeks after birth, it weighs only 2 ounces.

Some women have pains for a few days after birth. After-birth pains can feel like labour pains or mild to moderate period pain. This pain comes from your uterus contracting towards its pre-pregnancy size. They are more common in women who have had other babies than in women who have just had their first baby.

You may also experience Shivering or getting the shakes. This can happen right after delivery and it can also happen during the transition stage of labour.

What you can do about this is ask your provider about over-the-counter-medicine you can take for pain. Over-the-counter medicine is the medicine you can buy without a prescription from your provider.

Perineum soreness:

The perineum is the area between your vagina and rectum. It stretches and may tear during labor and vaginal birth. It’s often sore after giving birth, and it may get even sore if you have an episiotomy. This is a cut made at the opening of the vagina to help let your baby out.

What you can do:

  • Do Kegel exercises. These exercises strengthen the muscles in the pelvic area. To do Kegel exercises, squeeze the muscles that you use to stop yourself from passing urine (peeing). Hold the muscles tight for 10 seconds and then release. Try to do this at least 10 times in a row, three times a day.
  • Put a Swelling on ice. Put a cold pack on your perineum. Use ice wrapped in a towel. Or you can buy cold packs that you freeze in your freezer.
  • Sit on a pillow or a donut-shaped cushion.
  • Soak your Bottom. Just fill the tub with a few inches of tepid water and hang out there for about 20 minutes, three to four times a day. It decreases swelling, cleans the area so there’s less risk of infection and generally soothes discomfort,
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom. This can help prevent infection as your episiotomy heals.
  • Witch Hazel up. Another way to find sweet relief from uncomfortable hemorrhoids? Witch hazel, an herbal remedy with tannins and oils that can help reduce inflammation.

Vaginal discharge:

After your baby is born, your body gets rid of the blood and tissue that was inside your uterus. In the week or so after birth, you’ll bleed from your vagina. The blood is called ‘lochia’. It is bright red and heavy and might have clots. This is normal, but if you pass a clot bigger than a 50 cent piece or notice a bad smell, tell your midwife. You can expect to see lochia for 4 to 6 weeks. Over time, the flow gets less and lighter in color. You may have discharge for a few weeks or even for a month or more.

Breast engorgement:

This is when your breasts swell and are painfully overfull of milk. It usually happens a few days after giving birth. Your breasts may feel tender and sore. The discomfort usually goes away once you start breastfeeding regularly. If you’re not breastfeeding, it may last until your breasts stop making milk, usually within a few days.

Breast engorgement usually occurs when a mother makes more milk than her baby uses. Your breasts may become firm and swollen, which can make it hard for your baby to breastfeed. When your baby suddenly starts breastfeeding less than usual.

Nipple pain:

If you’re breastfeeding, you may have nipple pain during the first few days, especially if your nipples crack. During pregnancy, nipple pain is generally caused by hormones. Although nipple pain in the early days (usually peaking at 3-7 days postpartum) is common, it is not necessarily normal. A common problem leading to sore nipples is an ineffective latch.

Urinary problems can happen after giving birth:

In the first few days after giving birth, you may feel pain or burning when you urinate (pee). Or you may try to urinate but find that you can’t. Sometimes you may not be able to stop urinating. This is called incontinence. It usually goes away as your pelvic muscles become stronger again.

Urine may leak out of the bladder when there is additional pressure exerted, for example, when a pregnant woman coughs or sneezes. After pregnancy, incontinence problems may continue, because childbirth weakens the pelvic floor muscles, which can cause an overactive bladder.

Emotional changes:

You might find that you go up and down a lot, from being happy to feeling very down. That’s normal.

Your baby didn’t come with a set of instructions. You may feel overwhelmed trying to take care of her. Taking care of a baby is a lot to think about.

Many women feel teary, irritable or more emotionally sensitive than usual a few days after giving birth. These feelings are known as the baby blues, and they’re normal, too. It’s a physically and emotionally challenging time. Most women feel better a few days after birth with support and understanding from those around them. If you don’t feel better after 2 weeks, please seek help.

You might find a lot of people want to come to see you, and especially to see your baby. That’s great, but it can be tiring for you both. It’s up to you how many visitors you have, and when. If you’re feeling exhausted, you can always avoid visitors for a while so that you can rest.

“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers — strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”

—Barbara Katz Rothman

 

 

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

The Risks of Inducing Labor

Labor induction also is known as inducing labor is the stimulation of uterine contractions during pregnancy before labor begins on its own to achieve a vaginal birth. There are a number of reasons your obstetrician might want to induce labor before your due date or before they naturally start on their own. It may be that you’re overdue with no signs that you’ll be going into labor anytime soon, or that your water (meaning the amniotic sac of fluid your baby floats in and is protected by) has broken. A situation that puts him at risk of infection. (Breaking the amniotic sac in order to induce labor is called amniotomy.)

Sometimes inducing labor is the best thing for a mother or her child. But it’s not always necessary to rush things along. In fact, it can cause problems or even be unsafe.

Generally, inducing labor is safe, but there are risks:

  • Higher risk of a C-section. If induction doesn’t work, your doctor might decide to switch to a C-section instead. If after her water is broken a woman isn’t able to give birth vaginally, it will be necessary to deliver the baby via C-section. This is because once the amniotic sac is gone, the baby is more vulnerable to infection. A cesarean in an induced labor also is more likely if the baby is in a poor position for being born naturally or is in fetal distress.
  • Health problems for your baby. Women who are induced often have babies born a little early between the 37th and 39th weeks. Early babies can have problems with breathing and other things. They might have a higher risk of long-term developmental problems. Being born even a week or two early can cause a baby to be more likely to have more trouble breathing, eating, and maintaining a normal and steady body temperature, which often means he simply isn’t physically developed enough to be ready to leave the womb and will need special care in the NICU until he is.
  • Increased risk of infection. Breaking the amniotic sac can lead to infection if you don’t deliver within a day or two after induction. Some methods of labor induction, such as rupturing your membranes, might increase the risk of infection for both mother and baby. Prolonged membrane rupture increases the risk of an infection.
  • Low heart rate. The medications used to induce labor oxytocin or a prostaglandin might cause abnormal or excessive contractions, which can diminish your baby’s oxygen supply and lower your baby’s heart rate. This can lead to a fetal distress and makes labor longer and more painful for the mother.
  • Bleeding after delivery. Labor induction increases the risk that your uterine muscles won’t properly contract after you give birth (uterine atony), which can lead to serious bleeding after delivery.
  • Risk of Jaundice. Jaundice is an inability of the liver to break down red blood cells. In newborns, it’s caused when the baby’s liver simply isn’t yet mature enough to do this job. The result is an increase in the levels of bilirubin in the baby’s blood, bringing a tell-tale yellow hue to his skin and the whites of his eyes. Jaundice isn’t uncommon and it’s treatable, but it can mean a longer stay in the hospital.

Labor induction isn’t appropriate for everyone. Labor induction might not be an option if:

  • You’ve had a prior C-section with a classical incision or major uterine surgery  
  • The placenta is blocking your cervix (placenta previa)
  • Your baby is lying buttocks first (breech) or sideways (transverse lie)
  • You have an active genital herpes infection
  • The umbilical cord slips into your vagina before delivery (umbilical cord prolapse)

How long it takes for labor to start depends on how ripe your cervix is when your induction starts, the induction techniques used and how your body responds to them. If your cervix needs time to ripen, it might take days before labor begins. If you simply need a little push, you might be holding your baby in your arms in a matter of hours.

After the procedure

In most cases, labor induction leads to a successful vaginal birth. If labor induction fails, you might need to try another induction or have a C-section.

If you have a successful vaginal delivery after induction, there might be no implications for future pregnancies. If the induction leads to a C-section, your health care provider can help you decide whether to attempt a vaginal delivery with a subsequent pregnancy or to schedule a repeat C-section.

 

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Resources:

https://www.verywellfamily.com/reasons-to-avoid-induction-of-labor-2758959

 

Labor and Delivery Recovery (Postpartum Recovery)

You’ve finally put 40 (or so) weeks of pregnancy and long hours of childbirth behind you, and you’re officially a mother. Congratulations! Now comes the transition from pregnancy to postpartum, which brings with it a variety of new symptoms and questions.

Your delivery may have been complicated or easy. You may have had a cesarean birth (C-section) or vaginal delivery. You may have labored for a few hours or a few days. No matter what your delivery looked like, your body has been through a trauma just the same. It is going to need time to recover.

How Long Does It Take to Recover After Giving Birth?

Your postpartum recovery won’t be just a few days. Fully recovering from pregnancy and childbirth can take months. While many women feel mostly recovered by 6-8 weeks, it may take longer than this to feel like yourself again. During this time, you may feel as though your body has turned against you. Try not to get frustrated. Remember that your body is not aware of your timelines and expectations. The best thing you can do for it is rest, eat well, and give yourself a break.

If you’ve had a vaginal birth, you’re probably also wondering how long it will take for the soreness to go away and your perineum to heal. Recovery can take anywhere from three weeks if you didn’t tear to six weeks or more if you had a perineal tear or an episiotomy. Wondering if your vagina will ever be the same after birth? Not exactly, though it will likely be very close.

If you delivered by C-Section, expect to spend the first three to four days postpartum in the hospital recovering; it will take four to six weeks before you’re feeling back to normal. Depending on whether you pushed and for how long, you can also expect to have some perineal pain.

Here is more of what you can expect during your postpartum recovery

Abdominal pain. As your uterus shrinks back into its normal size and shape, you will feel pain in your abdomen (lower belly). These pains are called “afterpains.” Most of these pains will be dull, but some will be sharp. You may feel more of these pains as you breastfeed your baby. That is because breastfeeding stimulates a chemical in your body that causes the uterus to contract (tighten). For many women, applying heat to the area helps control the pain. Consider using a heating pad or hot water bottle. Your abdominal pain should ease up over time. If these pains get worse or don’t let up, you should call your doctor.

Baby blues. You are so excited and happy to bring baby home. The next minute, though, you are sad. It can be confusing, especially to new moms. Know that many women (70-80%) struggle with feeling sad the first few weeks after having a baby. It is commonly called the “baby blues” and is caused by hormone changes. It is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, confiding in a friend of family member can often make you feel better. If these feelings last more than a few weeks or you are not able to function because of them, you could have postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is more serious than baby blues. If you have severe feelings of sadness or hopelessness, you should call your doctor.

Constipation. It is very common to be constipated in the days following childbirth. There are several things that could cause this. If you received any pain-relieving drugs in the hospital, they could slow down your bowels. If you had anesthesia (a pain blocker) for any reason, that also can cause it. Sometimes, postpartum constipation is brought on simply by fear. This is true especially if you have stitches because you had an episiotomy (a surgical cut between the vagina and anus to widen the vaginal opening for childbirth) or tore this area during delivery. You may be afraid of damaging the stitches or be afraid that a bowel movement will cause even more pain in that area. To help ease constipation, drink plenty of water and try to eat foods that offer a lot of fiber. In many cases, you may want to talk to your doctor about prescribing a stool softener (such as Colace or Docusoft). If you haven’t had a bowel movement by four days postpartum, call your doctor.

Hemorrhoids. You may have developed hemorrhoids (painful swelling of a vein in the rectum) during your pregnancy. If not, you may have gotten them from the strain and pushing during delivery. They can cause pain and bleed after a bowel movement. They also itch. You can get some relief from the pain and itching by applying witch hazel to your hemorrhoids. This is especially effective if you keep the witch hazel in the refrigerator. Your hemorrhoids should shrink over time. If not, contact your doctor.

Hormonal shifts. Besides fueling your mood swings (see “Baby blues,” above), hormones are also responsible for other postpartum symptoms. You may be sweating more, especially at night when you sleep. Just make sure that your sweating is not accompanied by a fever. That could be a sign of infection. Hormonal changes also cause hair loss for many new moms. This is only temporary. When your estrogen levels increase, your hair will return to its normal thickness.

Perineum soreness. The perineum is the area between your vagina and anus. Many times, this area will tear during childbirth. Other times, your doctor may have to make a small cut in this area to widen your vagina for childbirth. Even if neither of these things happened during your vaginal birth, you perineum will be sore and possibly swollen postpartum. You may feel discomfort in this area for several weeks. While you recover, sitting on an ice pack several times a day for 10 minutes will help relieve the pain. This is especially good to do after going to the bathroom. During the first week postpartum, also use a squirt bottle to rinse the perineum with warm water after using the toilet. Notify your doctor if your perineum area does not get less sore each day or you have any sign of infection.

Sore nipples and breasts. For achy breasts, try using a warm compress or ice packs and gentle massage. Also be sure to wear a comfortable nursing bra. If you’re breastfeeding, let your breasts air out after every nursing session and apply a lanolin cream to prevent or treat cracked nipples.

Stitches. If you have stitches due to a torn or cut perineum it will take 7-10 days to heal. The stitches will absorb over time. It is important that you keep the stitches from getting infected by gently cleaning them with warm water after each time you use the toilet. Do this by using a squirt bottle to rinse the area and pat it dry. Do not wipe the area with toilet paper or you could irritate the stitched area. No matter how eager you are to check the healing progress, try to keep your hands off the stitches. If the area begins to hurt worse or the stitches seem weepy, contact your doctor. It could be a sign of infection.

If you have stitches from a cesarean birth (C-section), these heal in varying degrees. The stitches in the skin should heal in 5-10 days. The underlying stitches in your muscle layer will take longer to heal. These won’t completely heal for 12 weeks. For the stitches that you can see, make sure to watch for any signs of infection. These signs include if the incision area is red, swollen, or weeping pus; or if you have a fever.

Vaginal bleeding and discharge. After you give birth, postpartum bleeding (this is called lochia) can last for up to six weeks. It will be just like a very heavy period made up of leftover blood, tissue from your uterus and mucus. Bleeding is heaviest for the first three to 10 days, then it will taper off going from red to pink to brown to yellowish-white. If you spot large clots or you’re bleeding through more than one pad every hour, call your doctor right away to rule out postpartum hemorrhage. During this time, tampons are off-limits, so you’ll have to rely on pads.

Water retention. You may be eager for that swelling you noticed during your pregnancy to go away. It won’t, though, for a while longer. Also known as postpartum edema (swelling), your body will continue to hold on to water because of an increase in a hormone called progesterone. You may notice the swelling in your hands, legs, and feet. It shouldn’t last much longer than a week after delivery. If it does or if it seems to get worse over time, be sure to tell your doctor.

Postpartum Recovery Checklist

Here are a few things you’ll want to make your postpartum recovery go as smoothly as possible:

  • Acetaminophen. It can help with perineal pain and overall aches.
  • Maxi pads. You’ll probably need these for at least a couple of weeks until postpartum bleeding lets up.
  • Ice packs. There are lots of ways to ice your perineal area from frozen padsicles to your standard lunchbox ice blocks (wrapped in paper towels, of course, to avoid frostbite).
  • Witch hazel pads. This is often used in combination with ice packs to ease vaginal pain and help with hemorrhoids.
  • Sitz bath. This little tub is designed for you to just sit and soak away the postpartum pain.
  • Peri or squirt bottle. You’ll use this to rinse off your perineal area before/after peeing as the area heals.
  • Cotton underpants. Go for the “granny” or hospital gauze underwear, comfort is much more important for now than looking sexy.
  • Nursing bras. Invest in a few comfy ones that fit you well.
  • Lanolin. The cream works wonders to prevent and treat cracked nipples.
  • Nursing pads. If you’re planning to breastfeed, these will help keep leaky nipples under wraps.
  • Lidocaine spray. It helps ease the pain of postpartum hemorrhoids.
  • Stool softener. In case you get stopped up, this can gently help get things going.
  • Postpartum recovery belt. If you think you might want one, the Belly Bandit or other similar belts can help keep things in place as your belly shrinks back to size.
  • Heating pad. This can help ease aches and pains in your breasts.

Things to consider

Pay attention to your body after giving birth. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.

Just because you’ve made it through delivery, you are not necessarily out of danger for health complications. There are life-threatening problems related to childbirth that can happen days or weeks after delivery.

  • Postpartum hemorrhage is rare but can happen. If your postpartum bleeding is filling more than a pad every hour, you should contact your doctor immediately. Without treatment, postpartum hemorrhage can be fatal.
  • Headaches that are severe and don’t go away can also signal an underlying problem, especially coupled with high blood pressure. You could be in danger of having a stroke.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a deep vein) is a somewhat uncommon problem (1 in every 1,000 pregnancies) that can occur during or after pregnancy. Symptoms include leg pain or feeling like you have a pulled muscle. Your leg may also be red and hot to the touch. Left untreated, these clots can break away and travel to your lungs. When this happens, it can be life-threatening.
  • Postpartum preeclampsia is rare and can develop within 48 hours after childbirth or as late as six weeks after childbirth. It is similar to preeclampsia (also called toxemia), which can occur while you’re pregnant. Both preeclampsia and postpartum preeclampsia cause your blood vessels to constrict (get smaller). This results in high blood pressure and also distresses your internal organs. Sometimes there are no obvious symptoms unless you are monitoring your blood pressure. When you do have symptoms, they may include a severe headache, swelling of your hands and feet, blurred vision, and sudden weight gain. If you suspect you may have postpartum preeclampsia, call your doctor immediately.

When to see a doctor

You’ll usually visit your doctor about 6 weeks after delivery. She’ll check your vagina, cervix, and uterus as well as your weight and blood pressure. Once you’ve gotten the all-clear from her, it’s usually fine to start having sex again (ask your doctor about birth control first) and to get back to an exercise routine.

Before your checkup, call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding that soaks more than one pad per hour or vaginal bleeding that increases each day instead of decreasing
  • Passing large clots (bigger than a quarter)
  • Chills and/or a fever of more than 100.4°F
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Painful urination or difficulty urinating
  • Vaginal discharge with a strong odor
  • Heart palpitations, chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • The incision from C-section or episiotomy is red, weepy (with pus), or swollen
  • Abdominal (lower belly) pain that is getting worse or new abdominal pain
  • Sore breasts that are red or feel hot to the touch
  • Pain in your legs with redness or swelling.

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Resources:

https://familydoctor.org/recovering-from-delivery/

https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/recovery-vaginal-delivery#3

Childbirth Delivery Methods and Types

Every woman’s experience is unique but most mothers would honestly say, yes, childbirth is painful. However, it is short-lived, and there are many types and methods to effectively reduce the intensity of childbirth pain. There are many choices in childbirth. Women can choose the method that makes them most comfortable, and that makes sense for their personal and medical situation.

Medical technology has made childbirth a much safer experience over the past century for both mother and baby. Hospitals have responded to trends in childbirth, such as the need for a more home-like environment in the hospital. Many hospitals now offer comfortable maternity suites that convert into state of the art delivery rooms.

An easy birth and a perfectly executed birth plan are ideal. But we know that even the most carefully planned birth can take twists and turns. In those cases, it’s important to be prepared for alternative delivery methods.

Different Kinds of Childbirth and Delivery Methods

Vaginal Delivery

In a vaginal birth, the baby is born through the birth canal. It’s hard to know when exactly you will go into labor, but most women give birth at around 38-41 weeks of pregnancy.

A vaginal birth without medication benefits both mother and baby. The microbiome, or bacterial environment, is established by birth method. There is some research that suggests the development of the infant microbiome is associated with the likelihood of developing allergic diseases during childhood, but the association isn’t clear.

 

Benefits of vaginal delivery:

  • Infants born vaginally tend to have fewer respiratory problems.
  • Quicker recovery for the mother
  • A lower rate of infection and a shorter hospital stay

Disadvantages of vaginal delivery

  • Tearing of the perineum
  • Sometimes, a vaginal birth may not be recommended for medical reasons.

Cesarean Section (C-Section) 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 1/3 of births are delivery by C-section, although rates are highly variable by hospital and region. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the rate of Cesarean deliveries should be about 10%-15%; the higher level is because of both elective Cesareans and overuse in the U.S.4 A C-section involves a horizontal incision across the lower abdomen through which the infant is delivered. The typical hospital stay is three days after a Cesarean to ensure the incision is healing. Full recovery can take 8 weeks. One advantage of a C-section is that the delivery date can be planned ahead of time.  In certain circumstances, a C-section is scheduled in advance. In others, it’s done in response to an unforeseen complication.

Events that may require C-Section:

  • Multiples (twins, triplets, etc)
  • A very large baby
  • Previous surgery, C-Sections, or other uterine conditions
  • Baby is in breech (bottom first) or transverse (sideways) position
  • Placenta previa (when the placenta is low in the uterus and covers the cervix)
  • Fibroid or other large obstruction
  • Medical conditions/complications

Water Birth

A water birth means the mother goes through some or all of the stages of childbirth in a portable tub similar to a hot tub. The baby can be delivered underwater or the mother can get out of the water and deliver in a different position. Women chose water births because it can be more relaxing, and less painful to be in the water. Birthing tubs can be brought into the home for a home birth, and they are often found in birthing centers. Some hospitals may have birthing tubs as well.

 

Benefits of Water Birth:

  • It allows the woman to move into a variety of positions that can feel more natural and less painful.
  • The partner can also get into the tub with the mother to support the delivery.

Disadvantages of Water Birth:

  • May increase the risk of infection, but as long as the water is fresh and clean, water births are not any riskier than non-water births.
  • Unless the water birth takes place in a birth center with established tubs, there are logistics involved in setting up the tub and warming the water for a water birth.
  • If the birth plan at home does not progress normally, it may require transport to a hospital.

Lamaze Method 

The Lamaze method is typically known for controlled breathing techniques but it includes a number of comfort strategies that can be used during labor. Breathing techniques increase relaxation and decrease the perception of pain. In addition to breathing, other information about preparing for childbirth is covered. Lamaze is taught in a series of classes attended by both the mother and her partner, when possible. The Lamaze method doesn’t explicitly encourage or discourage medications but seeks to educate women about their options so they can make a birth plan that suits their individual needs.

Benefits of the Lamaze Method:

  • Lamaze training prepares the mother and her partner with a number of tools to use to get through labor and delivery naturally.
  • The breathing and relaxation techniques reduce the perception of pain and keep labor moving smoothly.
  • The Lamaze courses help the couple be prepared with what to expect over the first few days and weeks together.

Disadvantages of the Lamaze Method:

  • Learning the Lamaze method takes time. The couple must plan ahead and attend classes starting in the second trimester of pregnancy.

Vacuum Extraction 

A vacuum extraction is a procedure sometimes done during the course of vaginal childbirth. A vacuum-assisted delivery involves attaching a soft cup to the head of the infant while it is in the birth canal and a hand-held pump is used to create suction to facilitate delivery.

  • The advantage is that this assisted birth option has a lower risk than a C-section of prolonged fetal distress.
  • The risks of this method include minor scalp injuries or more serious trauma or bleeding of the head.

Forceps Delivery

A forceps delivery is a type of operative vaginal delivery. It’s sometimes needed in the course of vaginal childbirth. A forceps-assisted delivery means that curved instruments are used to facilitate the progress of the infant in the birth canal. Forceps cannot be used if the infant is breech, but it can be an option if the mother is too exhausted or if the infant has to be delivered more quickly than is naturally occurring.

 

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Resources:

https://www.medicinenet.com/7_childbirth_and_delivery_methods/article.htm#what_is_a_water_birth

10 Signs of Approaching Labor

While there are characteristic changes in the body with impending labor, every woman’s experience is unique and different. “Normal” can vary from woman to woman. The signs and symptoms of normal labor can begin three weeks prior to the anticipated due date up until two weeks afterward, and there is no precise way to predict exactly when a woman will go into labor.

“It’s the event you’ve been happily (and nervously) anticipating for months: Your baby’s birth! “

How will you know when it’s time to grab your hospital bag and get to the delivery room? Thankfully, your body will give you some solid clues.

Here are 10 common signs that labor is near.

  1.  The baby drops

Medically known as “lightening,” this is when the baby “drops.” The baby’s head descends deeper into the pelvis and is getting into position to make his exit. For some women, this occurs up to 2 weeks prior to the beginning of labor; other women may not notice this event at all. In subsequent births, this “lightening” doesn’t often happen until you’re truly in labor.

  1.  An increased urge to urinate

An increased urge to urinate can be a result of the baby’s head dropping into the pelvis. The low position of the baby’s head puts even more pressure on the urinary bladder, so many women approaching labor might feel a frequent need to urinate. As the baby drops, breathing can become easier since there is less pressure on the diaphragm from underneath.

  1. The mucus plug passes  

Passage of the mucus plug is a known sign that labor is near. Thick mucus produced by the cervical glands normally keeps the cervical opening closed during pregnancy. This mucus plug must be expelled before delivery. It can come out in one large piece (it looks similar to the mucus in your nose) or lots of little ones, though you may not get a glimpse of it at all and some women don’t lose it before delivery. Pressure from the baby’s head causes the mucus plug to be expressed from the vagina, sometimes as blood-tinged vaginal discharge (referred to as “bloody show”) and is a good indication that labor is imminent, but without contractions or dilation of three to four centimeters, labor could still be a few days away.

  1. The cervix dilates

Your cervix, too, is starting to prepare for birth. Dilation of the cervix is a sign that labor is approaching, although this is detected by the health-care professional during a pelvic examination. This begins in the days and even weeks prior to the onset of labor; “Fully dilated” means the cervix has dilated to a width of 10 cm. But everyone progresses differently, so don’t be discouraged if you’re dilating slowly or not at all yet.

  1. Thinning of the cervix

In addition to dilation, thinning (effacement) of the cervix also occurs. This occurs in the weeks prior to labor, since a thinned cervix dilates more easily. This sign is also detected by the health-care professional during a pelvic exam.

  1. Back pain

Contractions can often begin in the back and move forward to the pelvis. And some women do experience “back labor,” which is characterized by severe discomfort in the lower back that is most intense during contractions and often painful between contractions.  Women also notice loosening of the joints, particularly in the pelvic area, as the third trimester progresses, in preparation for delivery.

  1. Contractions

It’s inevitable—at some point, you’ll realize that crampy feeling you’re having might be more than just cramps. They’ll change to regular contractions, which indicate your body is beginning the process of a birthing baby. Contractions, which can vary among women and can be described as pounding, tightening, stabbing, or similar to menstrual cramps, increase in strength and frequency as labor approaches.

Irregular contractions, known as Braxton-Hicks contractions or “false labor” occurs toward the end of pregnancy during the third trimester. Braxton-Hicks contractions are usually milder than those of true labor, and they do not occur at regular intervals. The best thing to do? Relax, get comfortable or perhaps take a shower. Time the contractions and head to the hospital or birthing center when they become about five minutes apart.

  1. Burst of energy

Many women describe feeling a sudden burst of energy and excitement in the weeks prior to labor, in contrast to feeling extra tired as is typical of pregnancy. Often referred to as “nesting,” this impulse often is accompanied by a sense of urgency to get things done or make plans for the baby.

  1. Nausea and diarrhea

Just as the muscles in your uterus are relaxing in preparation for birth, so too are other muscles in your body, including those in the rectum. And that can lead to diarrhea, that pesky little labor symptom you may well have experienced at other times during pregnancy. Though annoying, it’s completely normal; stay hydrated and remember it’s a good sign!

  1. Your water breaks

Despite what movies will have us believe, how your water breaks (in other words, how the membranes of the amniotic sac burst) can vary a lot.

If your water breaks and you’re experiencing contractions, this is one of the biggest signs of labor. But if contractions haven’t set in yet, your doctor may want you to wait a few hours before coming in. Rupture of the amniotic membranes, or one’s “water breaking,” usually is a sign that labor has begun. Amniotic fluid should be colorless and odorless. It can sometimes be hard to distinguish from urine, but amniotic fluid does not have an odor.   If you are leaking amniotic fluid, it is essential to contact your health-care professional right away.

Should I Call the Doctor?

It’s not necessarily your due date—that’s just an estimate, and there’s really no telling exactly when the baby will arrive. Keep in mind too that some women may deliver before 37 weeks (which would be considered a preterm birth); others, who go past 41 weeks, may wind up getting induced, depending on your doctor and your hospital’s policies.

If you think you’re going into labor, your practitioner should have advised you on what to do when your contractions become regular: “Call me when they’re coming about five minutes apart for at least an hour,” for example. Contractions won’t all be exactly spaced, but if they are becoming pretty consistent, more painful and longer (usually around 30 to 70 seconds), it’s time to check in with your doc. If you think you might be in labor but aren’t sure, get on the phone; your provider can advise you on what’s going on. Don’t feel embarrassed or worry about calling outside of office hours (your doctor or midwife knew this would happen when she got into the baby-catching business!).

You should always call if:

  • You experience any bleeding or bright-red discharge (not brown or pinkish).
  • Your water breaks — especially if the fluid looks green or brown; this could be a sign that meconium is present (which is your newborn’s first stool; it can be dangerous if your baby ingests it during birth).
  • You experience blurred or double vision, a severe headache, or sudden swelling. These can be symptoms of preeclampsia, which is characterized by pregnancy-induced high blood pressure and requires medical attention.

 

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Resources:https://www.medicinenet.com/early_signs_and_symptoms_of_labor/article.htm#7_contractions