The third trimester is tough in many ways, not least when it comes to patience. Not knowing when you will meet your little guy is very challenging! The truth is that we don't know why labor starts or exactly when, but there are some signs that indicate that labor is close. This is what you should look out for!
Seven signs that birth is near
You may have experienced contractions early in your pregnancy. They can vary from woman to woman, but are described as tension or mild pain that spreads from the top of the uterus downwards. What distinguishes contractions from pre-contractions is that they are often more painful and last longer. It is also common to feel pressure downwards or behind the lower back. When these contractions become more regular, you enter the so-called latent phase, which is also the first stage of labor.
2. Traction bleeding
When the endometrium starts to open, the blood vessels in the endometrium can burst. This leads to a so-called "sign bleeding" and can be a sign that you are about to go into labor. If you notice any bleeding, always contact your chosen maternity unit!
3. slime plug
During pregnancy, the mucus plug forms in the cervix to seal the entrance to the uterus and protect it. The loosening of the mucus plug is therefore a sign that birth is imminent, although it may take another 1-2 weeks for labor to begin.
The mucus plug can come off when the uterine plug begins to mature, which it does gradually in late pregnancy. It appears as a thick and viscous vaginal discharge, often with a brown or pink hue. If the clot is associated with contractions, it is a sure sign that labor is just around the corner, but it can also take days for labor to start. You don't need to call the birth center if the mucus plug breaks.
4. Water discharge
If the membranes rupture, you will notice water seeping out or appearing as a "splash". If your water breaks, you should always contact your maternity ward, and you will be taken in for a check-up to determine that it is definitely amniotic fluid. This is because it can be difficult to distinguish from urine leakage or heavy discharge, which is very common in late pregnancy.
If your contractions have not started when your water breaks, you will have to go back home and wait for them to start. It is common for contractions to start within two days. If they do not start, you will be offered an appointment for induction of labor (also known as induction).
5. The uterine flap opens
The uterine appendage leads from the uterus to the vagina and as labor approaches, it becomes softer. In order to deliver a baby, the opening of the uterine appendage needs to become larger. This is usually about 10 centimeters to allow the baby to enter the vagina and be pushed out. If you have a vaginal sweep around BF or later, your midwife will feel whether the uterine plug has softened and started to open. However, it is not always possible to do a vaginal sweep as it requires that the uterine plug is reasonably mature (soft) and that the midwife can insert two fingers.
6. toilet visits
Perhaps you have heard that it is common to go to the toilet a lot and often when you are about to give birth? This is partly to make room for the baby to be born. So if your toilet visits become more frequent, it could be a sign that labor is out of reach!
The stomach sinks down
7. the stomach sinks
Has your stomach dropped further down? This could mean that you are about to give birth! At the end of the pregnancy, the uterus drops as the baby starts to get ready to enter the world, which is also reflected in the belly.
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