Many people don’t know the difference between being in true or false labor. I can say from experience there is a difference, and you can tell the difference when you feel it. Either way, be excited because you must be very close to holding your baby soon!
When will I go into labor?
Your doctor will give you your due date after your first ultrasound. It is an estimate of when you will give birth, and it is calculated using the first day of your last period. However, again it is just an estimation. Approximately only 5 percent of women actually give birth on their due dates. Once your water breaks, or you feel contractions that is when you should call labor and delivery and explain to them your symptoms. If the doctors agree that you may be in labor, they will tell you to go to the hospital.
What is false labor, and how to recognize it?
When you feel very painful contractions, sometimes your body is just preparing for labor. These symptoms usually confuse a mother and may lead her to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, she will be sent back with no progressing dilation.
The following symptoms are indicators that it is not the real thing.
- Contractions: The length of contractions and the time between them is irregular. They may stay weak, or begin strong but get weaker.
- Change of Activity Changes Symptoms: During false labor, taking a bath, walking, or changing positions would decrease the intensity of contractions.
- Lack of Other Symptoms: Usually during false labor, you will not bleed, your water will not break and you will have no abnormal discharge.
How many stages are there?
There are three stages of labor. The first stage includes the early and active stage of labor which can last up to 20 hours or more. It involves the dilation of the cervix from 1 cm to 10 cm. Once the cervix dilates to 6 cm, you enter the active stage which involves very strong contractions. The second stage of labor is the birth of your baby. The third stage of labor is the delivery of the placenta.
How to recognize actual labor? Usually, this stage is the first stage of labor.
The following symptoms are indicators of actual labor.
- Discharge: You may see blood, the mucus plug, and discolored discharge.
- Contractions: Contractions will start off weak and increase with time. Whether you take a bath, change positions, or walk, nothing will decrease the intensity of contractions. They will become longer and get closer together. They would last between 30-70 seconds and come every 5 minutes or less.
- Water Breaks: Your water may or may not break. My water broke when I was in the pushing stage.
- Backache: You may have a backache that will get extremely worse and lead to contractions.
When should you go to the hospital?
- If this is your first baby, then you should go to the hospital when your contractions last for more than 45 seconds, and between each contraction is 3-5 minutes.
- If this is not your first baby, then you should go to the hospital when your contractions last more than 45 seconds and between each contraction is 5-7 minutes.