Many expecting mothers, throughout their pregnancy, constantly wonder two questions, namely, What are the labour pain symptoms, & what do early contractions feel like! And it’s not unusual for them to think so, as labour worries are one of the top things that take up a pregnant woman’s mind space a lot of the time!
Besides worries about delivery pain symptom, considering the fact that babies are an unpredictable bunch of tiny humans, are the questions of what to do in early labour, if your tot decides to pull a punch on you & arrive way before he or she is due!
Then too, there’s the question of what causes early labour, if any, & how to ensure labour is as smooth & as painless(you wish) as you want it to be!
Taking into account all these immediate labour worries of expecting mothers, we bring you a thorough guide on how to spot 10 labour pain symptoms, & ensure you have a happy, healthy pregnancy & childbirth experience.
Your labour is majorly divided into two phases, the pre-labour phase that lasts from one month before your labour to an hour before the actual labour takes place, & the early-labour phase, which is usually hours or days before your actual signs of labour pains begin.
Below, we give you identifying signs for both of the labour phases, to help you stay on top of your labour!
1. You can feel your baby ‘dropping’
If you’re about to become a mother for the very first time, you’ll begin to feel, from around three to four weeks before your labour is due, your baby ‘dropping’, or descending into your pelvis to be prepared for birth.
Your baby is getting himself/herself ready to make an exit, head first, & this is one of the earliest signs of labour pains.
You’ll feel that you’re waddling a bit more while walking than you used to during your entire pregnancy, & that you’re taking even more frequent bathroom breaks, a common third trimester symptom, than ever before. All this is due to your baby moving further downwards into your pelvis & thereby, exerting significant pressure on your bladder.
However, you may start noticing an ‘open chest’, & your difficulties in breathing may begin to subside since your baby has now moved away from your lungs.
2. Your cervix begins to dilate
Your cervix is the ‘vagina tunnel’, a tiny pipe connecting your pelvis to your vagina through which your baby will take his or her birth. In the weeks leading up to the labour, your cervix will begin to dilate, or in simple words, open up & the sidelining walls will start thinning out, to assist in smooth passage of your baby.
You can actually log your cervix’s dilation by visiting a gynaecologist frequently. He or she will measure your dilation through some simple checks, & will be able to imitate you well in advance about your approaching labour.
There’s no need to panic however if your labour date has approached & there still isn’t any sign of cervix dilation. Remember that everyone progresses differently, & your baby might not arrive exactly on schedule.
3. You’ll start feeling increased cramps & back pain
You may feel some amount of cramping & lower-back pain in your pelvic area, especially if this is your first pregnancy. This can be differentiated from the regular cramps & back pain you experience during pregnancy, by the acuteness of its nature, & the intensity of the pain. This is because your muscles & joints are stretching to prepare your body for child-birth!
4. Your joints may feel loser
The hormone ‘Relaxin’, loosens up your joints & muscles a bit, & is also the chief reason behind your occasional clumsiness you felt during this & the previous trimester. The ‘loose’ feelings become even more pronounced when your labour is close, as your body prepares itself to make way for your baby to arrive, & starts displacing your joints & muscles to make the passage as smooth as possible for your little one to arrive in this world!
5. You may experience diarrhea
Perhaps the most annoying of third trimester symptoms, about the time when you’re near labour, you might experience random & frequent bowel movements due to the muscles in your body loosening & relaxing, including those in your rectum.
Near labour, however, you might experience a heavy case of diarrhea, which, in usual circumstances, is quite normal. Just remember to keep yourself well hydrated, & it will subside once your baby arrives. However, do see a doctor immediately if it begins to show deteriorating effects on your health.
6. Your weight gain stops
Near your approaching labour, you might notice that you’ve stopped gaining weight. In some cases, some expecting mothers might even lose a few kilos! This happens due to your frequent bowel movements, coupled with the loss of amniotic fluid as well as increased activity, as some women find it difficult to sit still for longer durations during this time.
This is nothing to worry about however, & your baby is still gaining weight & growing. Unless you notice something untoward, there’s no need to panic.
7. You either feel too tired, or too energetic!
Some expecting mothers find it extremely difficult to get a good night’s sleep during the time between the final trimester & labour, due to the extra pressure on their bladders leading to frequent urination & the full size, popped-out baby bump! If this sounds like you, you should start packing as much sleep as you can during the day hours, so as to avoid feeling sleep-sick & irritable.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, some pregnant women might experience sudden, unexplained bursts of energy, & get the oddest urge to clean out the closets, reorganize their homes & engage in some light physical activity.
This is usually fine, & helps ease up the labour stress, but you should take care to not overdo it!
This is the phase that’s nestled a few days to hours before the labour actually starts, & indicates that labour is really near.
8. You lose your mucus plug & your vaginal discharge looks different
The mucus plug is the cork that keeps your uterus sealed away from the outside world, & in the days leading up to the labour, it might come off in either one single go, or keep shedding in small quantities every day. However, it’s also quite possible that you don’t see it all, as some women only lose it once they deliver their baby.
Along with this, you’ll begin to notice thick, pinkish vaginal discharge in the wee days before your actual labour, which is usually the symptoms of labour pain in the 9th month. However, if your cervix hasn’t yet dilated at least 3-4cm, your labour will likely not start soon!
9. Your contractions become stronger & more frequent
Although contractions are a sign of imminent labour, you might experience ‘practice contractions, rhythmic contraction of your muscles weeks before your labour, as your pelvic floor muscles start preparing to push the baby out in the final stage of labour.
Although that answers your questions about what do early contractions feel like, you might still want to know the difference between early contractions & actual labour contractions, as it’s important for you to know when your labour is really starting.
Below are a few signs of labour pains that’ll let you know if your contractions are actual labour contractions:
- The contractions don’t stop even if you’re active, neither do they ease on changing positions.
- The contractions become progressive one after the other, i.e. they keep getting more intense & painful overtime, & the intensity keeps growing until it’s labour time. It’s important to remember that their intensity doesn’t increase in a regular pattern, but gradually.
- Real labour contractions often feel like strong menstrual cramps, lower abdominal pain & the cramps arising from an upset stomach. The pain is usually concentrated in the lower back & lower abdomen, which generally progresses into both the knees.
10. Your water breaks
Although most movies would have you believe that a woman doesn’t get to know she’s in labour until her water breaks, but in reality, it’s often the last stage of labour, & happens in a little over 15% of births overall!
As for what to do in labour, you must remember to take the help of a professional doctor or nurse, & if you’re at some place other than your home or the hospital, don’t be ashamed to ask for others’ help. It’s important you be completely relaxed during labour, & keep your calm while you’re delivering your baby!
Also keep in mind that for labour related emergencies, like experiencing bleeding, abnormal or greenish vaginal discharge & blurred vision along with severe headaches, you should not waste any time treating these yourself, & send for a doctor immediately!
To sum it up, signs of labour pains are often confusing & difficult to read, but rest assured that when it happens, you’ll know it right away! Meanwhile, enjoy this beautiful phase of your life, & get ready to welcome your tiny baby into your world!
FAQs Related To Normal Delivery Pain Symptoms
1. When should I go to the hospital during labour?
If you feel any discomfort or experience bleeding or greenish vaginal discharge along with headache and blurred vision, you should not waste any time and go to the hospital immediately! These are some of the symptoms of labour pain in the 9th month which indicate that your childbirth is only a few hours away.
2. What would I feel during delivery?
Every mother fears that she will only feel extreme pain in labour, however, that is not completely true. You do not feel too much delivery pain symptoms as the body has an upsurge of hormones which numbs most of your abdominal and pelvic region, but you might feel some changes such as-
- Mild to moderate pain along with contractions
- A strong urge to push out the baby
- Extremely high rectal pressure causing the major pain in the pelvic region
- Mood swings with either bursting energy or tiring weakness
- Visible contractions, which can be seen with a rise in your belly
- A stretching and burning sensation at the vagina because of the baby’s emerging head
- Normal delivery pain symptoms
- A slippery wet feeling around your vagina as your baby emerges
3. How long will my labour last?
It is not possible to predict exactly how long is your labour going to last, but we can provide you with a rough idea of what to expect during delivery.
If you are a first-time pregnant mother, active labour can take up to eight hours. It is an average and could be much shorter or longer than that. Once your cervix has dilated to 10cm, it takes only an hour or two to push the child out along with the enhanced labour pain symptoms.
If you have had a normal delivery before, your labour time will be far shorter. The delivery pain symptoms will be suppressed when you are having a second child. Active labour is likely to take around five hours and is unlikely to last more than 12 hours. It takes around an hour to push the child out. However, cases of delivery with five to ten minutes of child pushing have also been seen. Labour time can be different from case to case, hence, you can never be sure how long your’s will last.