Going into labor once full-term in your pregnancy fills you with excited anticipation. You must focus on timing contractions as you prepare for birth.
When you properly time your contractions, it can help to have an idea of how long it might be before you reach the point where you are ready to give birth. This is one of the most important parts of preparing in order to ensure that your birthing process is as smooth as possible.
Natural Fear in First-Time Mothers
If you’re a first-time mom, you may not know when you have gone into actual labor. There is a false alarm known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, which occur earlier in pregnancy and sometimes as early as only four months. While these are normal, they can be scary if you don’t know to expect them. Some women may also have a discharge consisting of blood and mucus and rush to the hospital in fear.
Generally, Braxton-Hicks contractions are nothing to worry about and are not serious. They don’t mean you are in labor.
Some women go into premature labor, which can be terrifying. However, just because you show early signs of labor, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will deliver prematurely.
What Are the Signs of Labor?
Once you have actually reached labor, you will know it based on the symptoms you experience. The most common symptoms include the following:
- Lower levels of energy
- Increased pressure in your uterus
- Discharge of bloody mucus
When you officially go into labor, you will also start to experience uterine contractions. The contractions become steadier, more painful and occur in regular intervals. While there are different types of labor, if you are experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms, you are at the point where you are in real labor and getting ready to deliver your baby. It’s essential to begin timing contractions as soon as they begin.
In some cases, a woman may enter prodromal labor. This is also known as false labor, which means that you aren’t actually in labor in spite of experiencing contractions. This type of labor doesn’t result in the birth of your baby, but it can be scary and lead to rushing to the hospital, expecting to give birth. However, women in prodromal labor are typically sent home in frustration.
Timing Contractions the Right Way
If you have actually gone into real labor, you should start timing contractions as soon as you begin experiencing them. Contractions should be timed in terms of duration and frequency and should be timed from the moment you first feel it until it’s over. Timing contractions is typically measured in seconds. However, the time between the contractions should be measured in minutes. For example, you may experience your contractions about 15 minutes apart until they become more frequent.
Timing contractions is important as it helps your doctor and other medical staff predict how close you are to giving birth. You will be able to accurately tell them how far apart they are and how long you’ve been experiencing them.
One of the best tools available to you is a chart for tracking your contractions. You can download a guide for free to keep on your smartphone right at your fingertips.
Going to the Hospital and Breathing Exercises
Once you have arrived at the hospital, you will be taken to the delivery ward to prepare for the birth of your child. In some cases, you may be taken to triage first. Normally, this happens if there are any potential complications in your pregnancy. You are closely monitored by medical professionals if this is the case.
Being in labor is extremely stressful in spite of being exciting as you prepare to give birth and meet your baby. Breathing exercises can greatly help to reduce your stress. It allows you to keep your breathing even, lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, and calms you down.
Patterned breathing is often taught to pregnant women as a way to relax. You can even download a breathing app on your smartphone and practice. Whatever feels comfortable for you and helps you to calm down can only benefit you as you prepare for childbirth. Generally, breathing in deeply through the nose and exhaling through the mouth is often helpful.
Phases of Labor
Labor has three phases. In the first phase, the cervix begins to open in preparation for the baby to start crowning. This is the early phase and lasts eight or more hours.
During the active phase of labor, your contractions begin to get stronger, longer and more frequent. They allow the cervix to dilate more but can take several hours before you reach 10 centimeters, which is when you are ready to give birth.
The transitional phase is when you have reached 10 centimeters and the baby is coming. Your water will break and contractions are the most intense at this point to help you push the baby out of your body.
After you have delivered your baby, you must deliver the placenta as well.
Timing contractions is essential when you are preparing to give birth. It can make for a smoother experience.
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