Having your first child? There are lots of rumors you will hear about early signs of labor and you will be wondering what is real and what are ‘old wives tales’ in regards to this. Thankfully, we have got you covered! We’ve compiled a list of early warning signs to help you to know for sure when it’s time to get to your doctor fast because baby is coming. So, is a swollen vagina a sign of early labor? Let’s get this question and some others answered for you to help clear the air.
The last weeks of pregnancy
First, let us start with what is normal. A number of things can alarm you that are actually quite natural. We’ve gotten a list together for you to review so that you can know what to expect in those last weeks of pregnancy. Things that you can expect during those last weeks:
- Mucous discharge – Rather like a runny nose on the wrong side of the body, some women will have a vaginal mucous discharge that can occur a few days to even a few weeks before giving birth. This is normal and it can be quick or it can last for a few days If your ‘due date’ is getting close and you aren’t experiencing this then don’t worry about that either. Some women experience this before giving birth and others simply do not. This discharge, also known as a ‘mucous plug’ is perfectly normal.
- Stir-crazy baby – Your baby is active inside you and ready for that larger world outside. There will be kicks and punches, of course, and likely a daily routine of moving about, wiggling, and more that you will notice. This is all fine and normal and just means that your wee one is probably getting bored in there and ready to come out into the wide, wide world.
- Pelvic pressure – During your pregnancy, as baby descends to your pelvic area in preparation for birth you can feel a bit of pressure in the vaginal and pelvic regions. Don’t panic, it just makes good sense. You are feeling pressure simply because there IS more pressure there now. If you have had a baby previously then this can occur earlier than it did last time and this is normal too.
- Swift pains – As your baby continues with that pelvic descent during your pregnancy it is possible (and likely) that you may experience a sharp pain or many pains in the pelvis or vagina. Quick and sharp, these should pass and are not a concern unless they are not going away.
- Cramping and contractions – Cramping in the lower back, your pelvis, or across your entire belly is normal during those 37 weeks. This can happen just a few days before giving birth or even for a period of a few weeks before. As long as they are not persisting for extended time periods then these period-like cramps while you are pregnant are to be expected during those tricky 37 weeks that your baby is moving and developing. If you have been pregnant for 37 weeks with lots of pressure and NO contractions then this is more of a concern and you should consult your physician.
- Swollen labia – Yes, this can occur days or even weeks before pregnancy and is completely normal.
The importance of getting some rest
When those last contractions are coming, you are NOT going to be sleeping through that. So don’t skimp on your rest. Warm baths can help to relax you and a hot-pack in bed is something that you will definitely appreciate. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of fluids during this time as well. Remember: don’t panic, prepare!
“Extreme stress can contribute to preterm labor conditions”
How do I know if I am at risk for early labor?
Early labor (also known as ‘preterm labor’) can be a possibility for a number of reasons. Here are a few factors that can contribute to preterm labor:
- Twins, triplets, or more – If you are expecting more than one child an early labor is a possibility.
- Stress factors – Extreme stress can contribute to preterm labor conditions.
- Consecutive quick pregnancies – Becoming pregnant within 6 months of a previous pregnancy can also cause an early labor.
- Use of drugs or cigarettes – Cigarette and/or drug use stressses the body and can cause preterm labor.
- Periodontal disease – An infection of your gums, surprisingly enough, is another factor when it comes to early labor conditions.
- Diabetes or high blood pressure -If you have high blood pressure or are diabetic, your physician may have some special instructions for you that should be followed as closely as possible, as this also puts you at risk for preterm labor.
What does a ‘real’ early labor feel like?
Actual labor contractions are likely not going to be centralized in the top or in the middle of your belly. More likely they will begin in the lower abdomen or you will feel them in starting in your back. They will begin occurring with a regular frequency, increasing in strength. If your water breaks, this is definitely labor, as contractions following this are always ‘real’ contractions. A red vaginal discharge is also normal and to be expected when your final contractions are beginning. Time to call the hospital and for you and your significant other to get there, your baby is ready to be born!
Some final words
A little education can go a long way when it comes to allaying fears. As you can see, there are a number of things that you can expect as your child develops and comes nearer to entering the world. We cannot stress enough that you should relax as much as possible, keep yourself hydrated, take your vitamins and above all, don’t panic. It’s a little scary but just keep in mind that soon you’ll be greeting your new family member and it will all be worthwhile. Count on it!