The Final Few Weeks of Pregnancy
You’re nearly there! The last few weeks of pregnancy can be among the most uncomfortable and by now you’re desperate to meet your baby.
If they haven’t already, your breasts may start to leak colostrum and your nesting instinct will kick in, making you clean everything in sight!
Don’t try to focus on your due date too much – only 3 percent of babies actually arrive on their due date, and first time babies are infamous for being late.
From around week 36 of your pregnancy, your body will start preparing for the birth. You will start to experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which are also known as practice contractions. This is not real labor, but practice for you and your breathing exercises. Contact your doctor if these contractions start to get closer together and longer. Your vaginal discharge will start to increase and may appear to be slightly pink. You may also start feeling your baby’s head dropping as they get ready for their arrival into the world. The benefit of this is that you will be able to breathe more easily!
Onset of labor
You can’t believe everything you see in the movies, including the idea that water breaking is the first sign of labor. The amniotic sac can actually stay intact right up until your baby is born. If your water does break, be sure to take note of the color as your doctor will want to know whether the water was clear, blood stained or green.
Most women start labor by experiencing mild contractions, which can sometimes feel like lower back pain. If you’re in labor, these pains will start to become stronger, longer and more frequent. You’ll be able to tell the difference between real contractions and Braxton Hicks contractions because the “practice” contractions generally slow down or stop when you lie down or have a glass of water.
Your discharge will also appear brown and bloody, also known as a “bloody show.” This is when the mucus plug that blocks the cervix is released, a sure sign that your labor is starting.
During the early stages of labor, your cervix thins and starts to dilate (enlarge) an average of one centimeter an hour for your first baby, although this can vary from woman to woman. You need to be ten centimeters dilated before you can push your baby into the world.
When the onset of labor starts, it can be a very exciting time for you but you need to remember it can be a long process. Stay positive – your baby will be here before you know it!