Pregnancy completes a woman and its final culmination in delivery of a child brings immense happiness and satisfaction. It feels like rebirth for a woman.
This is because things are not completely known. If all goes normal a woman delivers after 40 weeks from the first date of her last menstrual cycle. This period is only an approximation. Delivery could happen, in many cases earlier than the expected date of delivery.
Early Signs of delivery:
Women in the third trimester eagerly await the arrival of the baby into this world. For this, they are always on the lookout for early signs which may signify that they are in labour. Some of these are:
- Breaking of water: This happens when the amniotic sac tears and the fluid comes out. This is the fluid around the baby. It usually trickles or in some cases might just gush out through the vagina. This is one of the most common sign of onset of labour as you will have no control on this gushing liquid.
- Regular contractions: This will feel like pain during a menstrual cycle. The contractions will usually be 20 to 30 minutes apart. It will be a lower back pain and could move from the back to the front or reverse.It is good to note how long these contractions last and what is the gap between two contractions. Initially these will be irregular and become regular as labour progresses. Usually if contractions happen once every 3 to 5 minutes and last for a full minute, it means that you are in labour. Also if the contractions are longer, stronger or do not stop or slow down, these indicate onset of labour.
- Discharge from the vagina also indicates onset of labour. This will be thick and jelly like and will be pink or brown in colour. This happens when the cervix dilates. Some women notice this specifically though in others it may be accompanied by water breaking, so will go unnoticed.
- Some women shiver and tremble during early labour. You can take care of this by deep breathing exercises or a warm shower.
- When the baby drops lower into your pelvis and you can breathe a little easier, it could be start of labour.
- Diarrhoea: In many cases, the woman will have diarrhoea during the start of labour. This is because the body naturally makes way for the baby by emptying the bowels. Also, the body produces a hormone called prostaglandins which soften the cervix and dilate it. This hormone helps the uterus to contract. But it also stimulates the bowels, thus causing passing of stools or diarrhoea.
As the term already signifies, it is the state of the body getting ready early for delivery and having contractions earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy. Usually, the longer the baby is inside the mother, the more chances it has of not having any birth problems. So preterm labour brings with it the risk of birth problems.
There are a number of reasons why babies are born premature. These are:
- Smoking or drinking alcohol
- Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy.
- Having high blood pressure or diabetes
- Being pregnant with twins or triplets
- Becoming pregnant again very soon after a previous delivery
- Having a family history of premature delivery
- Not getting good prenatal care
Premature delivery does not mean that the baby won’t survive. It is just that it would not have developed like a full term baby. But it is good to recognise the symptoms of a preterm labour. These are:
- Backache: The pain in the lower back will be severe and will not allow any work to be done comfortably. It might be a recurring pain.
- Contractions: There could be painful contractions once in every ten minutes.
- Cramping: There will be menstrual like cramps and pain in the abdominal region.
- Vaginal leaking. There could be fluid or discharge coming out of the vagina.
- Situations where there is continuous nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Bleeding from the vagina whether light or heavy.
- Pressure in the pelvic region or vagina.
When the baby has been inside a mother’s body for 40 weeks it is called a term baby. If born earlier than 37 weeks, it is called a premature baby. Premature babies need additional care and eventually grow normally in most cases. It is important for women in the last few weeks of pregnancy to keep an eye out for any signs of labour. Once they see these signs, it is good to call the doctor and check it out or directly go to the hospital for labour.