Getting Ready for Labor

The real thing

The Real Thing

Baby Talk

Labor is the process by which the body prepares for childbirth.

It would be so nice if there were definite symptoms of labor so every expectant mother would know exactly when labor begins. But labor is different for every woman-and for some women it is a different experience for each of the children they have. The best you can do is know the signs that mean things are moving along and delivery day (D-day) is near.

If you answer "yes" to any of these three questions you might be in labor:

  • Do contractions occur at regular intervals that are coming closer and closer together and getting more intense?
  • Do you have lower-back pain (which might be accompanied by a crampy, menstrual feeling)?
  • Has your water broken? The expression "water broken" refers to a rupture of the membranes of the amniotic sac. When this happens, amniotic fluid will leak from your vagina and make it look like you have wet your pants (always a fun thing when you're in public). If this happens and you haven't begun labor contractions yet, this is a sign that you should begin labor within 24 to 48 hours. It is very important to keep the vaginal area very clean at this point, because the baby is now unprotected from germs. Do not take a bath, have sexual intercourse, or use a tampon to stop the flow of amniotic fluid.

Talk to your doctor about when you should call her about your labor. She'll tell you to time your contractions. Also let her know when they reach a certain frequency and intensity. She'll also tell you not to worry too much about having your baby on the living room floor by accident. All over the world most new mothers arrive at their birthing centers not too soon and not too late. If you pay close attention, you will hear the body signals that say, "It's time to go!"

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excerpted from:

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's website or call 1-800-253-6476.

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