I think the burning question for most mothers, whether you are a first-time mom, or already have kids, is “how will I know I am in labor?” or “what can I expect during labor?” I think no matter how many times we go through labor we will always wonder if it’s “go time!” or if it’s a false alarm
In this guide, you will find the early signs of labor, the stages of labor, and what to expect during labor.
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Labor and Delivery Tips and Advice
Early Signs of Labor
Early signs that may be labor will be starting soon are:
Your baby will drop
Your baby moves into birthing position, head down in pelvis. This can happen many weeks before you go into labor.
Usually, days before you go into labor you will feel restless and the need to nest or get your house in order for the new baby.
You might experience back pain just before your contractions start. This was one of my very first symptoms I experienced before I went into labor
This is your body way of cleaning its self out before labor.
Lose mucous plug
Losing your mucous plug could mean that labor is very close to starting. But don’t et your hopes up right away. Your mucous plug can grow back. So you could lose it a few times throughout your pregnancy.
Light bleeding usually caused by effacement of your cervix.
Not everyone’s water will break before they go into labor. Mine did not break until I was already having contractions for 14 hours. For some woman, their practitioner will break their water for them.
RELATED: Natural Ways to Induce Labor
When Should You Head to the Hospital
When you are in labor, good indicator that it’s time to head to the hospital is using the 5-1-1 rule. When your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting one minute, for one hour. Some woman will want to labor at home for as long as possible so if that is your plan you could wait until 4-1-1. Contractions that are 4 minutes apart, lasting one minute, for one hour.
Stages of labor
- First Stage
- Second Stage
- Third Stage
Dilation and effacement of the cervix occurs during the first stage of labour. This stage is the onset of labor and ends when the cervix is fully dilated. There are 3 phases during the first stage of labor.
During this phase, your cervix dilates from 0-4cm. During this time your contracts will most likely be subtle with very long periods between contracts. Usually, every 5-30 min and the contraction last less than 45 seconds.
This stage of labor can last for hours so it is best to try and get some sleep during this time or, at the very least try and relax. I made the mistake of not sleeping during this phase because I was way too excited, and I ended up being awake for more than 24 hours when it came time to push. Needless to say, my body was exhausted before I was even at the hard part.
During the active phase, your cervix dilates from 4-7cm and your contractions become more intense and start coming closer together, generally 3 to 5 min apart.
This phase of labor can last for up to 6 hours. While in the active stage of labor you might want to practice breathing techniques, switch up positions to help ease the pain, and use your partner for support.
This is the last part of the first stage of labor. Your cervix dilates from 7-10cm Contractions become increasingly intense, coming every 1-3 min and lasting longer. You may have the urge to push during this phase but you need to wait until your OB/ Midwife give you the Ok.
You may experience nausea during this phase due to the pain, but not all woman experience this. Relaxation techniques can help you progress through this stage.
Your cervix is fully dilated at this stage. And this is the active stage of labor, the stage where you begin to push and deliver your baby. Try and keep your body as relaxed as possible, you do not want to tense up, or it makes it harder to push the baby out. If you keep your hands relaxed the rest of your body will relax as well.
What to expect during this stage
You might poop
You use the same muscles as you use to poop to push the baby out. You’ll know you are pushing correctly if you feel like you are going to poop. As embarrassing as it is to poop during labor, it is very common, and the doctors and nurses are very used to it happening.
Burning Ring of Fire
This feels exactly how it sounds. When your baby is crowning the tissue around your vagina stretches and feels, quite freaking literally, like a burning ring of fire.
The third stage of labor is the delivery of the placenta, don’t forget about that squishy little jellyfish looking thing. Now while this is MUCH easier than delivering a baby is still isn’t fun. Your body with still be having light contractions to help you push out the placenta. Usually, you deliver the placenta within the first 30 min after giving birth.
If you tore during delivery then they will stick you up after you deliver the placenta. You should not feel much during this part.
You will have to get up and walk to use the bathroom. Your midwife or nurse will show you have to use a peri bottle. Which is used to help ease the pain while you pee, by diluting your urine, and it is used to clean yourself.
Pooping after birth is literally the scariest thing. So make sure you take those stool softness and drink lots of fluid to make this experience less painful.
You will bleed heavily for close to two weeks after birth. Every time you use the washroom it will look like a war scene. The bleeding usually lightens up after two weeks and then you will bleed for another 2-4 weeks.
Check out my post on 6 Things I wish I would have Known before I Went into Labor
First Days Afterbirth
You are going to be very sore for quite sometime after birth so make sure you relax and rest. Let your body heal. You will be able to tell if you are doing too much, by how much you bleed. You will bleed more when you are doing too much. Now is the time to ask for help from your family and partner.
Points to Remember
- Try and get some rest during the early phase of labor
- It is ok if you poop. The doctors have seen it happen all the time.
- Keep hydrated
- Get up and move around
- Switch up positions often
- Things might not go as planned
- Don’t tense up while you are pushing
I hope you found these labor and delivery tips helpful! Let me know in a comment below what you are or were most nervous about when it came to child birth.
If you are looking for more tips and advice check out my facebook group. We are a growing group and would love to have you join the community!