Signs and Symptoms of Labor
Between the normal aches and pains of pregnancy, Braxton-Hicks contractions (false labor) and all the other changes your body has been living with, it is very common to be uncertain about the onset of labor. But it’s always safer to over-react than under-react. You should always contact your physician if you have any of the following circumstances:
- Contractions every 3-5 minutes lasting for 1-2 hours.
Q: How do I know if it’s a Braxton Hicks contraction and not the real thing?
A: Braxton Hicks contractions usually stay consistent at every 10 to 20 minutes and tend to go away when you move around. Real labor contractions will get longer in length, closer in frequency and stronger in intensity.
Real labor is regular uterine contractions that lead to the progressive dilatation (opening) and effacement (thinning) of the cervix. After 37 weeks gestation, this is usually not seen unless you are having painful rhythmic cramping pains that are progressively worsening, occurring at least every five minutes for over an hour or two. Oftentimes the onset of labor is associated with light spotting (there should not be heavy bleeding in labor).
Q: What is a mucous plug?
A: A collection of cervical mucus that seals the opening of the cervix to keep bacteria and infection from entering into the cervix, providing a protective barrier for the developing baby. Some women will lose their mucous plug or part of it weeks before they go into labor. It may be associated with spotting.
Q: What’s the real story behind my water breaking?
A:If you think your water has broken, you need to be evaluated. It’s a fact that more than 75% of the time your water won't break until you're well into labor and more than nine centimeters dilated.
Q: When do I call the doctor if I think I am in labor?
A: If you think you are in labor after 37 weeks your doctor may want to evaluate you in the office. So, if it is during regular office hours, call. If the office is closed, go directly to the hospital and your doctor will be notified when you arrive.