About to be a mom? freaking out about the delivery is normal as your due date approaches. But is being nauseous before labor normal too? Labor is not just about contractions but rather a complete package of multiple symptoms. Here is what you need to know about it:
Feeling nauseous by the end of your pregnancy indicates the starting of labor. Not only does nausea appear a few hours or days before labor but some women also experience slight period pain and pelvic cramps. All these symptoms along with other signs may appear sometime before the actual labor starts.
What to Expect When Labor Is Near?
If you’re on baby number one you are already freaked out because, let’s be honest, pregnancy for nine months is no piece of cake. Nausea, cravings, cramping, weight gain and to top it all the labor pains? That is not an easy deal. But you need to be mentally prepared for the next step, to bring your baby into this world. So here are five things you should be mindful of when labor starts:
The reality of approaching labor: Cramps will become really prominent. It’s like having periods after nine months of pregnancy. As time goes by, cramps don’t occur individually but as part of Braxton Hicks contractions. The real contractions in the early stages of labor also feel like period cramps.
Braxton Hicks contractions or false alarms are so painless that most women don’t even feel them, and they pass within a few hours. But as the real deal of labor begins, the contractions become very painful. So you can consider false labor contractions as practice contractions.
Nausea is also a prominent early sign of labor. It starts and then changes into vomiting to empty the stomach of anything extra and allow the uterus to contract properly.
Backache is a common symptom of labor, but it’s usually accompanied by pelvic pressure. Women feel baby-dropping pressure in their pelvic area along with period pains. This happens because the weight of the baby pushes down on the cervix making the pelvis feel full pressure. This is also accompanied by lightning crotch where women feel sharp and shooting pains in their pelvis.
Even before preterm labor or early labor, vaginal discharge occurs differently. This happens before the mucus plug comes off. The discharge becomes stickier and its consistency becomes high. The discharge is watery and may have a hint of blood in it by turning pinkish. This is a clear sign of early labor.
Loose bowel movements are one of the common signs of labor. Many women experience diarrhea and loose and watery stool before giving birth. This is nature’s way of emptying your tummy so that the uterus can properly contract and the next phase of labor can start.
Bowel movement and nausea work in the same way to ready the body for contractions.
How Do You Tell Labor Is A Few Hours Away?
It is not easy to tell how far away labor is. Especially when there are multiple false alarms like Braxton Hicks contractions during your first pregnancy. So you should know that babies don’t necessarily arrive on their due date. Meaning it isn’t exact but rather just a guess. Once your due date is near, it’s just a guessing game for you and your partner because your baby can arrive in a few hours or it may take its sweet time inside your belly.
Usually, you can tell a maximum of two days before labor starts. Symptoms start to appear at that time, like pressure in your pelvic area and nausea. You can also use the following signs to tell whether you will meet your baby after a few hours or not, but remember these are not exactly accurate as every pregnancy is different.
Is Nausea Common Before Labor?
Nausea, or morning sickness, occurs during pregnancy and disappears after the first trimester. But by the end of the third trimester, it returns along with other signs of approaching labor. Nausea is considered normal before labor starts; however, it’s not common in every pregnant woman. Some women don’t even feel anything until the painful contractions start.
As you go into labor, the digestive system takes a backseat and your digestion process either slows down or stops completely. This happens to make the body focus its energy on delivering the baby.
So as digestion stops, before labor, you start feeling nauseous. The condition gets worse during labor especially if you go into the labor room with a full stomach. In addition to this, contractions also lead to nausea and vomiting.
Another cause of nausea during labor can be low blood pressure. Blood pressure needs to remain stable, but it can fluctuate especially if you’re getting an epidural. Epidural lowers your blood pressure and makes you nauseous.
What Are the Three Signs Labor is approaching?
The following signs of approaching active labor are common to almost all women globally:
Pain in Back and Belly
During the third trimester, backache becomes really painful. Not only because of the weight gain a mom-to-be has but also because the baby’s head puts pressure on the mother’s cervix.
So pain and pressure are common signs.
Mucus Discharge with Blood
The mucus plug is not as nasty as it sounds. Rather, it is one of the most important parts of the womb. It keeps the baby safe inside the amniotic sac. Not only does it protects the baby but also closes the mouth of the uterus to keep any bacteria from entering the womb. Thus, it keeps the fetus safe from infections and allows it to develop properly.
When the mucus plug breaks free, it comes out of the birth canal and officially starts the labor. This makes the amniotic fluid pour down as well. Water breaking is not common as an early sign of labor among most women.
Your water breaks! This is by far the biggest sign of labor. However, it is not common among pregnant women and usually only happens naturally in 10 percent of them. Most of the time doctors have to burst the water bag themselves. When this happens, your baby is hardly a few hours away.
In this situation, a woman loses her mucus plug and the amniotic fluid present in the amniotic sac pours out. This is when active labor begins along with painful contractions.
What Causes Labor To Start?
You have noted the early signs of labor. Now you must be curious about what triggers it. Well, labor is the most important part of your pregnancy. It brings you your baby. But it’s no straightforward experience. It is unpredictable. You might dread it, but you know what to expect.
Labor starts whenever your baby is ready to come into this world. You may be experiencing signs of labor for days or weeks, but if your baby isn’t ready it won’t happen. The science of it all is as follows:
If your due date is near you don’t necessarily need to artificially trigger or induce labor. It will happen. You may have suggestions from your doctor if you are past the due date. But there is no scientific evidence that exactly tells you what will put you into the labor room. Research shows that usually, the content of amniotic fluid present in the amniotic sac triggers the labor.
More specifically the amniotic fluid contains telomeres, which are related to DNA and aging and tell the fetus to move along the birth canal as it’s time to be born. This theory also claims that the baby knows when he wants to come and pouring down of amniotic fluid is a signal by him to his mother.
Similarly, we have other such theories that tell you how labor induction occurs. One theory suggests that when a woman is 32 weeks pregnant the baby’s lungs start to produce surfactant protein that is necessary to complete lung growth and allows the baby to breathe outside the mother’s body. By the end of the third trimester, this protein activates cells that are responsible for eliminating toxic elements from the uterus, such as bacteria and viruses.
During this process, the cells stimulate a response from the uterus walls triggering labor. Whatever the reason may be, it is evident that labor is inevitable and sooner or later the baby will come into this world.
Inducing Impending Labor
Some women don’t experience any direct early signs of labor. This then leads to the triggering of labor by doctors or at home. When the mother is overdue and there is a health risk in prolonging the pregnancy, doctors induce labor themselves. This usually occurs when a woman reaches the forty–second week of pregnancy.
Doctors either induce labor through the prostaglandin hormones or mechanically by using a catheter on the cervix to break water. A doctor may use fingers to break the membrane keeping the amniotic sac connected. All these actions result in breaking a woman’s water, which releases prostaglandin hormones and causes contractions. If nothing works the doctor may just burst the water bag to get the process started.
If nothing happens after taking the above measures, doctors inject the patient with a hormone called Picotin. This helps in starting contractions almost instantly and leads to natural labor.
Doctors always recommend certain natural home remedies to induce labor first before switching to other means. These remedies are safer and allow you to go into labor without waiting painfully long hours at the hospital. If you have crossed your due date and are tired of being pregnant, you can always use some safe remedies at home to induce labor. These include:
Exercise. Exercising, especially yoga, has proven to be exceptionally useful for inducing labor. Just walking up and down the stairs or taking a walk by yourself for a few minutes every day can help induce labor. The movement helps push down the uterus and make it ready for labor.
Next up is sexual activity. Believe it or not, having sexual intercourse can prove really beneficial at this point. Not only it will prove pleasurable and bonding time with your partner but also helps induce labor contractions. Sex releases oxytocin hormone that helps in labor. Plus, male semen has a high quantity of prostaglandin hormones that trigger labor. So having sex when you’re overdue is highly recommended.
Prostaglandin hormones are also released when you eat spicy foods. So that is also a great way to trigger labor.
Early signs of labor vary among pregnant women and each experience is unique. But nausea is one of the common symptoms of early labor. In addition to this, signs of active labor include diarrhea, false contractions, loss of mucus plug, and water breaking.
You should be ready for all of this and more, as birthing is a complex process. If you’re not prepared, you may feel overwhelmed and that won’t make the process easier. So practice labor in your Lamaze class and try to relax and keep your energy intact till the big day arrives.