Nearly 3.8 million babies are born in the United States every year — and that means almost 3.8 million women go into labor. Most of us are familiar with movie and television depictions of labor — typically images of intense discomfort. But is that the only sign that your baby is almost here?
Labor causes many signs and symptoms that aren’t as well known. What’s more, labor doesn’t always cause significant discomfort.
Learning to recognize the “other” signs of labor can help you decide when to call the doctor or head right to the hospital. If you’re expecting, the team at Women’s Health Services wants you to know about these other signs of labor, so you can enjoy a more confident delivery experience.
Especially in the early stages of labor, you might experience dull aching or cramps similar to the ones you have with your period. These cramps signal that your uterus and the tissues that support it are preparing for delivery.
As your body moves closer to delivery, the baby typically shifts position, too. Depending on how this movement happens, you may feel increasing pressure in your lower pelvis, or you might feel lighter in your pelvis.
It’s not uncommon to feel tired during pregnancy, but many women find they feel extra exhausted right before going into labor. That may be due to the extra surgery in hormones that prepare your body for delivery, or it may be your body’s way of “resting up” before the big event.
While some women feel tired shortly before delivery, others feel a burst of energy, sometimes called a “nesting instinct.” During this time, you may feel an urge to get your home and nursery space organized for your new addition.
Your cervix goes through a lot of changes as delivery nears. As a result, you might notice a pinkish or mucousy discharge. The mucus plug located at the mouth of the cervix can also dislodge, another sign that delivery may be near.
When the baby shifts position, you might experience nerve pain — sharp, electricity-like sensations — around your pelvis or crotch area. This happens when the baby’s new position presses on a nerve.
When delivery is near, your body releases a hormone known as “relaxin.” This hormone helps your pelvis joints and ligaments relax so they can stretch to accommodate the baby as it leaves the birth canal. You may notice increased flexibility in other joints, as well.
Relaxin doesn’t just affect your joints: It can loosen your bowels, too. That’s why some women have diarrhea shortly before they give birth.
Our team knows no two pregnancies are the same. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing patient-centered, custom pregnancy care for women at our two locations in Arlington, Texas. To learn more about prenatal care or how to get ready for your big day, book an appointment online or over the phone today.