The most worrying question for each pregnant woman – how should I understand that the baby is coming? When should I head for the maternity ward and when should I stay at home?
We have summarized in brief the indications that can direct you in the last days and hours of your pregnancy so that you can prepare without any worries about your most important moment – your first encounter with your long-awaited baby.
Harbingers of birth
The harbingers of birth are tentative signs that the labour will begin soon. They do not mean that the labour has already started.
- Preparatory contractions: They start as early as 5-6 weeks before the delivery. They are painless and irregular. Preparatory contractions may come at every from 7 to 10 minutes (sometimes 4-5) and last over a period of 2-3 hours, then fade. They are not periodic and are rarely accompanied by pain in the waist and lower abdomen.
- Lowering the abdomen: 2-4 weeks before the labour, the baby takes a “pre-start" position. You will find it easier to breathe and eat, some tension in your lower abdomen while walking, some tension on your hips and pelvic floor.
- Loss of appetite: About 1-2 weeks before the beginning of the labour, you may feel a loss of appetite, mostly shortly before the labour starts.
- Nesting syndrome: An unexpected flow of energy and desire your home and everything for the baby to be perfectly set before you are admitted to the hospital.
- Mucus plug: The so-called”bloody show” - the released mucus plug is not a certain sign of the onset of the labor, but you should tell your doctor who is going to take care of you during the labour. He will probably decide to examine you.
- A frequent need to urinate: the descending baby is pressing on your bladder during each contraction; physiologically the loosening occurs about 24 hours before the onset of the labour.
Clear indications that the labour has begun (When should I go to the hospital?
If there is one or more of the following indications, it means that the labour has probably started. You do not need to rush, so take a shower, get ready and go to the hospital without feeling worried:
- Vaginal mucous blood-tinged discharge
- Leakage of amniotic fluid
- Periodic contractions: Contractions that do not stop after the mother has had some rest or labor pain relief medicine and gradually occur at shorter intervals, last longer and have become more intense. When you are a first time mother and you have periodic contractions that occur at intervals of five minutes (three contractions in every 15 minutes) and each lasts about 40 seconds during an hour, it is time for you to go to the hospital. In a second and subsequent births you should go to the hospital earlier.
Emergencies (When do I need URGENT hospital care?)
Any of the following conditions requires urgent attention and medical care to be provided by a doctor:
- Bleeding: Bright, red and saturated blood – you need an urgent hospitalization in order to be determined what caused the bleeding; if possible you should be lying down while you are taken to the hospital! Not every bright bleeding is a reason to scare you, it may be due to ruptured blood vessels of the cervix caused by an existing wound. You should pay attention to the baby's movements and try to remember them!
- A sudden acute abdominal pain: You should pay attention to your baby’s movements and the condition of your uterus (pay attention if you have some contractions). When the pain quickly fades away and the baby’s movements are normal, you should see your doctor for consultation. If the pain lasts longer and does not fade away or the baby’s movements are now different from the usual ones (too rough or missing), you should consider going to hospital where the cause of the pain will be determined.
- A sharp increase in blood pressure: This condition requires consultation with a physician and some treatment in order your blood pressure to be maintained within the norm. At the risk of toxaemia, the pregnant woman may need hospitalization and treatment with intravenous infusions.
Emergencies (When do I need URGENT hospital care?