You are inching your way closer to your estimated due date. This week is your thirty-sixth week of pregnancy. As the days go by you may be starting to wonder if you are ever going to actually have your baby. You may be analyzing every cramp, ache or feeling of wetness. In this week’s newsletter we are going to be discussing just what’s on your mind, signs of labor. We will tell you the things to look for to let you know that you may have started labor. You may know some of the signs and symptoms of labor but may be wondering how to tell the difference between real labor and false labor. We are going to be discussing false labor in this week’s newsletter as well.
Your baby is still working on putting on weight during pregnancy week 36. While that may not seem very exciting, keep in mind that this is his primary job from now until delivery. This is probably the one time in your baby’s life where he they can put on pounds with wild abandon.
Did you know that some researchers believe your baby actually releases a signal to trigger labor? There are several theories. Some believe that when your baby’s brain is completely mature, it sends a signal to the fetal adrenal glands. These glands then start to secrete the hormone cortisol, which may alter the metabolism of estrogen and progesterone, resulting in labor.
Other researchers have postulated that the fetal lungs secrete signals indicating they are mature, as well as enzymes that result in the release of prostaglandins, which help the cervix ripen and help the uterus to contract. This is highly likely as the body does release prostaglandins around the time of birth.
How Your Life’s Changing
Now that your baby is taking up so much room, you may have trouble eating a normal-size meal. Smaller, more frequent meals are often easier to handle at this point. On the other hand, you may have less heartburn and have an easier time breathing when your baby starts to “drop” down into your pelvis. This process — called lightening — often happens a few weeks before labor if this is your first baby. (If you’ve given birth before, it probably won’t happen before labor starts.) If your baby drops, you may also feel increased pressure in your lower abdomen, which may make walking increasingly uncomfortable, and you’ll probably find that you have to pee even more frequently. If your baby is very low, you may feel lots of vaginal pressure and discomfort as well. Some women say it feels as though they’re carrying a bowling ball between their legs!
You might also notice that your Braxton Hicks contractions are more frequent now. Be sure to review the signs of labor with your practitioner and find out when she wants to hear from you. As a general rule, if you’re full-term, your pregnancy is uncomplicated, and your water hasn’t broken, she’ll probably have you wait to come in until you’ve been having contractions that last for about a minute each, coming every five minutes for an hour. Of course, you’ll want to call right away if you notice a decrease in your baby’s activity or think you’re leaking amniotic fluid, or if you have any vaginal bleeding, fever, a severe or persistent headache, constant abdominal pain, or vision changes.
Even if you’re enjoying an uncomplicated pregnancy, it’s best to avoid flying (or any travel far from home) during your final month because you can go into labor at any time. In fact, some airlines won’t let women on board who are due to deliver within 30 days of the flight.
Eating in “Start collecting take-out and delivery menus from local restaurants. You won’t have time to cook in the early weeks after giving birth. Even restaurants without a visible take-out business will usually accommodate a to-go order.
What to Expect
As you have completed 36 weeks of pregnancy, you have only 3 or 4 more weeks to go till delivery. Now is the time when you are going for your weekly medical check up. Talk to your doctor and midwife if you are suffering severely from any of the medical conditions and treat yourself accordingly. Be in picture about baby’s presentation, due date and labor. Proper and adequate rest and relaxation is a must at this stage. Minor aches and pains can be alleviated by doing light exercises by way of daily walks, stretching, breathing and yoga. These exercises will also help in coping with the stress during child birth. Good personal hygiene and cleanliness help in prevention of infections.
Balanced diet with right nutrition and supplements helps in maintaining your health and baby’s development through pregnancy. Plan and organize things in advance for the delivery and baby’s welcome. It is advisable that you decide about baby’s feeding at this stage, whether it is going to be breastfeed or top feed. Talking to family, friends and partner will help greatly. A positive outlook and cheerful disposition throughout the pregnancy period will ensure a safe pregnancy and healthy baby. So take all due care, and prepare yourself for the challenging yet enjoyable task of motherhood.
Signs of Labor
Here are some of the common signs of labor.
Many women begin to “nest” right before they go into labor. Nesting is a word used to describe preparing your baby’s nest. You may feel the need to get your house super clean or perhaps you may start cooking lots of freezer meals.
Dropping or Lightening
As your baby descends into your pelvis you may notice that your baby’s position has dropped. Sometimes this is obvious and other times you won’t notice this at all.
Cramping or Pelvic Pressure
You may notice menstrual like cramping or achiness or you may sense more pressure in your pelvic area. Some women describe this feeling as if their baby feels like she might “fall out.
Cervical Dilation or Effacement
As your body prepares to give birth your cervix will begin to thin out and dilate. Your doctor may begin doing cervical checks at the end of your pregnancy. Cervical effacement and dilation are a good indicator that labor might start soon.
Mucous Plug or Bloody Show
The mucous plug seals the entrance to your cervix. You may lose your mucous plug a little at a time or all at once. Some women lose their mucous plug weeks before labor starts. If you notice that you have lost your mucous plug or if you see mucous tinged with blood this may be a sign that labor may start soon. Blood tinged mucous is called a bloody show. Many women have a bloody show shortly before labor begins.
At the start of labor you may have contractions that are ten to fifteen minutes apart. As your labor progresses your contractions will become more regular and closer together. You may be advised to call your doctor once your contractions are five minutes apart; however, you will want to consult your doctor for specific instructions on when to head to the hospital.
If your water breaks you may feel a “pop” followed by a gush of water or you may just feel a small trickle. Some women even feel like they have urinated. If you think your water has broken call your doctor right away.
You are down to the final weeks; it is time to prepare a hospital bag. Make sure that everything is in place when the baby comes home. If you are planning a homecoming party for the baby, keep it small. Don’t over do it even though you may feel great. It is still important that you rest.