Prelabor is the time before actual labor when the body prepares for childbirth.
Every day this month your body is preparing for labor so that when the moment actually arrives, your body is ready. Prelabor signals that you're in the getting-ready-for-labor stage include:
Birth contractions are muscle spasms of the uterus that will eventually help push the baby through the birth canal.
False labor is contractions that make you think you are in real labor when you're not. They are a false alarm.
On the TV sitcoms, the pregnant woman always grabs her big belly with a look of wide-eyed surprise and announces, "It's time." Unfortunately, labor doesn't usually come on like that. You might spend a lot of time this month timing contractions, grabbing your suitcase, and then stopping short, realizing the contractions have stopped—false labor!
False labor feels just like the real thing. That's why thousands of pregnant women who rush to the hospital are sent home again to wait just a little longer. This is embarrassing, naturally (especially if you've woken your spouse, your parents, and your physician to announce the news), but it's nothing new. When contractions start you can tell, usually, that real labor has not begun if you answer "yes" to these four questions:
If you're saying "yes," you're not in real labor yet. When real labor contractions begin, you will find that you cannot walk or talk through them. That's a good time to start packing.
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:
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!"
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.
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