After desperately waiting for months, your baby’s due date is finally here! Here is what you can expect from the early signs of labor until the first days to weeks with your new baby and post-delivery body.
You cannot accurately predict when your labor will begin. The due date given by the doctor is just for reference. The labor can start normally even as early as 3 weeks before the date or as late as 2 weeks after. Following are the signs of labor, from early signs to how it begins-
Early signs of labor
Signs that the body is preparing for labor
- Having the feeling that the baby has dropped lower, feeling more pressure
- Frequent belly tightening which comes and goes.
- Frequent urge to urinate.
- Increased backache and cramps.
Signs that the labor may start in a few days
- Bloody vaginal discharge, which may be clear, pink, or slightly bloody in color.
- Change in bowel movements. (Also Read: Know About the Risk of Piles during Pregnancy )
- Feeling restless.
- Difficulty getting sleep.
- Contractions that repeatedly come and go.
Baby coming through soon!
Signs that labor will start soon
- Longer, stronger contractions.
- Contractions that do not go away even if you change your position or take a shower or move around.
- Walking and talking during contractions may get difficult.
- Changes in the cervix – The cervix tends to open wider and starts thinning (can be through a pelvic exam with your doctor).
Signs of labor starting
- The water breaks, which can be a trickle or a gush.
- You are not able to walk or talk during contractions.
- Regular contractions in 20 minutes or less apart.
What happens in the woman’s body in the early phases of labor
Your “water will break”
The amniotic sac is a fluid-filled membrane that surrounds the baby. It “almost” ruptures before the baby’s birth. In some cases, it may remain intact until delivery, which is completely normal and harmless. The rupturing of the sac is often described as “water breaking.”
You must have heard “My water broke..”, which means that the female’s amniotic sac broke! And she is going to have a baby!
In most cases, the water breaks before the woman goes into labor or is in the early phases of her labor. Most women experience water-breaking like a gush of fluid.
This “water” is clear and odorless. In case it is yellow, green, or brown in color contact your doctor immediately.
You’ll have heavy and patterned Contractions
Contractions are the tightening and releasing of the uterus, which helps the baby push through the cervix during childbirth. Contractions can be felt like pressure or heavy cramping which begins in the back and then moves towards the front.
Contractions are not always a trusted sign of labor. A pregnant woman might already have had contractions in her second trimester. The rule is to realize the last minute contractions that these last for over a minute, and come back again every 5 minutes, and this continues for an hour. Such contractions mean that the woman is in labor.
Your Cervix will dilate
Cervix is the lowest part of the uterus which opens into the vagina. It is a tubular structure, about 3 to 4 cms long and connects the uterine cavity and the vagina. During labor, the cervix changes to facilitate the delivery of the baby.
Near the end of the pregnancy, the cervical tissues soften and the cervix gets thin, in order to help prepare the cervix for the delivery. Labor is considered to be begun when the cervix dilates up to 3 cms or more.
When to contact your doctor
Contact your doctor if you have any of the following-
- Your waters break
- You have regular contractions coming approximately 3times in every 10 minutes
- You have very strong contractions and feel like having a pain relief medication
What will happen during the labor and delivery
The cervical canal will continue to dilate until the cervical opening has reached up to 10 cms in diameter and it is possible for the baby to pass into the birth canal.
When the baby enters the vagina, the vaginal skin and muscles stretch. The labia and perineum area (between the vagina and rectum) stretches to its maximum. The woman may then feel her skin burning at that point.
This phase is called “the ring of fire” due to the burning sensation felt. It happens because the tissues stretch around the head of the baby. At this time, the doctor may suggest performing an episiotomy (surgical cut in the vagina during childbirth).
Sometimes, the female may not even feel the episiotomy as the skin and muscles might have lost sensation because of being stretched so tightly.
Also Read: 20 Tips To Help You Have Normal Delivery
Birth plans: Should you prepare one?
As an outlook on the latter part of the pregnancy, many females consider writing a birth plan for themselves before their labor itself. While making a birth plan, it is essential to carefully make note of what is important to you. Keep in mind that your overall goal should be to stay healthy and deliver a healthy baby.
The birth plan includes the ideal “birth plan” of the female but may be adjusted as per the actual situation.
Have a word with your partner and decide if you want him to attend the birth. Some couples prefer their partner present while giving birth while others prefer doing it with doctors alone.
A birth plan may also include other subjects regulated delivery such as pain relief during labor, delivery positions, etc.
The Mother after delivery
Childbirth is a pretty tough job. The woman undergoes enormous changes, hours of pain and contractions to deliver a healthy baby. But, even a normal and healthy vaginal delivery takes a toll on the woman’s body. However, it all gets back to normal in a few days. Here is what happens to the mother after the birth of the baby-
Loose and Wide Vagina
A woman mostly feels her vagina wider, softer and looser after giving birth. The vagina may also feel sore or bruised. Bruising and soreness are normal to occur and are supposed to go back after a few days. Many females also complain of urine leakage or Stress Urinary Incontinence. Get in touch with your gynecologist if you feel so. The doctor will provide certain treatment options suitable for you.
Here’s what Neena said to us after her Laser Vaginal Tightening-
“My sex life was falling apart. After 3 vaginal deliveries, sex was not as good as it was for both me and my husband. But in just a few sessions of Vaginal Tightening, I got back my pre-baby vagina but better lubrication and sensitivity.”
Vaginal dryness is normal for a woman after having a baby. During pregnancy, there are lower levels of estrogen in the female body. It gets even lowered at the time of childbirth. Resuming sexual intercourse may further cause more troubles as it may make the vagina more sore and dry if not lubricated properly. Get in touch with Pristyn Care for pain-free laser procedures to get a hold of your intimate life again!
Soreness and Itchiness
Because of being stretched to a large extent, the vagina gets irritated, dry and sore. It usually gets back to normal in four to six weeks. But in some cases, the trouble keeps bothering the female even after months of delivery.
Sex after childbirth will definitely feel different. As the vagina is loose, both the partners are unable to have a pleasurable and satisfying sexual intercourse. For some, it may get back to normal in a few weeks but some females may have the complaint of pain during sex even after months of the delivery. Also, the soreness and dryness if the vagina plays an important role in causing discomfort during sex.
Many new mothers suffer from constipation. It is mostly due to the intake of iron supplements that are prescribed during pregnancy to raise the blood. Taking prescribed stool softeners, drinking plenty of water, and a high-fiber diet can help get relief from constipation.
Piles or Hemorrhoids
Painful bowel movements after birth can be a sign of piles. Eating a high-fiber diet, taking a sitz bath, drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day and avoiding spicy and oily foods can give relief. In case the problem increases, get in touch with our proctologist for the most advanced, pain-free and permanent solution for piles.
How long does it take to recover after vaginal delivery?
The vagina may remain sore and tender for about 2 weeks after a vaginal delivery. However, the mother starts feeling better in about 7 to 10 days after delivery. Complete recovery may take about 6 weeks or even a little more than that, depending on the mother’s overall health condition. Stay in touch with your doctor and consult them in case you observe unusual or painful symptoms.