When a woman is in labor she’ll know, at least that’s what everyone says. That may not always be true - ask anyone that’s been featured on the show “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”. While the average woman will obviously know she is pregnant, and feel specific pains that make it clear what's happening, there are signs before the typical tell-tale symptoms start.
Hopefully most women reading this have read What to Expect books and are not solely relying on media's depictions of labor. For example, if your water happens to break, since not every woman's does, or if you happen to lose your mucus plug, again not every woman does, you don't need to be rushing away to the hospital or birthing center until your contractions say so. It's all about timing.
Heading to the hospital to have a baby is intense, terrifying, and sometimes uncertain. Many woman head to the hospital for Braxton hick's contractions and even for peeing themselves and thinking their water has broken. Avoiding heading to the hospital for false alarms is a big concern for many expectant mothers. The bigger concern, however, is knowing when to head to the hospital to avoid having a baby on the highway. Nobody wants to stop traffic and become an internet sensation for having a baby on the highway, well at least most people don’t; so here is a list to help reveal when it is the right time to head to the hospital.
13 Sudden Shivering
Getting ready to give birth is terrifying even if a woman knows it is coming in the form a planned induction or C-section. Regardless of knowing or not knowing there are certain things baby books hardly talk about and women feel unprepared for when they happen. Baby books talk about very typical or shocking things like water breaking and potential bowel movements during pushing. However, they may sometimes leave out other very typical but sometimes scary pregnancy and labor symptoms.
A very common side effect of going into labor and the laboring process is shivering. Not like cute little shivers when it’s cold outside while running into the store, but big full body shaking, difficult to talk shivers. This happens to many women during labor, and no number of warm hospital blankets will fix it. These intense shivers are caused by adrenaline, temperature, and hormonal shifts. If a pregnant woman is experiencing intense shivers there is a good chance she is in labor and needs to get to the hospital right away.
12 Braxton Hicks That Won’t Stop
Braxton hicks are fake contractions. People and doctors say that all time. The first time a woman feels Braxton hicks she may be scared that these are labor contractions and that they are far too early into her pregnancy for her and baby. Thankfully a doctor will usually ease her mind and let her know they aren’t real contractions. Although technically Braxton hicks are contractions, they are just so small and insignificant that they don’t count except to prepare and strengthen a woman’s body for labor.
Braxton hicks aren't a reason to grab the baby go bag and to get to the hospital. If a woman, however, finds herself having regular and more frequent Braxton hicks especially after being on her feet all day, there is a good chance that her body is getting closer to labor and trying to ready itself. The best way to determine if contractions are "true" or Braxton hicks is to time the length of each contraction and the duration of time in between each if they are regular, and four minutes apart and lasting for 30 seconds each it is probably time to head to the hospital.
11 Intense “Nesting”
When parents find out they are expecting they become excited about every little thing that has to do with the baby, from diapers to home furnishings - it doesn’t matter they want to create the perfect place for their little one. Rich or poor everyone finds a way to prepare their home for the new bundle of joy. It turns out part of this urge is biological in nature and is referred to as nesting.
Nesting may make most people think of birds and they would be correct - birds nest to prepare for their impending arrival, and what's interesting is that it's not just birds who nest. In fact pigs and humans even nest. Hormones shift and anxiety is high and suddenly everything has to be right for baby. However, when the nesting has already got the whole house perfect and everything pre-washed and suddenly a mother wants to scrub the kitchen floor twice, it could be a sign that labor is coming any minute. In fact, extreme nesting usually happens within days of birth.
10 Can’t Get Comfy
Pregnancy is uncomfortable. The first trimester in pregnancy starts with intense nausea, sleepiness, and peeing more. The second trimester then comes with heartburn and achy feet. Finally, the third trimester comes and a mother has all those symptoms and an achy back. Everyone knows pregnancy won’t be the most physically comfortable thing a woman goes through in her life.
Being uncomfortable during pregnancy is to be expected. However, most of the time during pregnancy there is something a woman can do to feel good for at least a few minutes. Sometimes a woman can lay down with a big pillow or have good ice-cream to relieve heartburn, whatever it is it will usually give some reprieve and comfort. However when an expectant mother suddenly can’t get comfortable no matter what she does and suddenly feels anxious there is a good chance it is nearing time to head to the hospital.
9 Inability To Speak Through Contractions
Pregnant women may be constantly tired but they usually like to talk. Whether the conversation is to get their mind of off anxiety or to talk about their impending joy, they enjoy a good conversation like everyone else. One of the things many expectant moms find themselves conversing about it Braxton hicks and if they are really experiencing contractions or if those pains are nothing of importance.
A good rule of thumb for differentiating Braxton hicks from real contractions is if a woman speak during them? If a woman is slightly bothered yet able to tell the people around her she is in pain, she's probably experiencing a Braxton hick's contraction and not true labor. However, if a woman is suddenly feeling something so intense she can't speak during it, it is probably a true contraction and a sign that she needs to head to the hospital because she is in true labor.
8 Severe Back Pain
Pain during pregnancy is common, so common in fact that there are special pillows and even massages designed to relieve the pregnant woman from her pregnancy aches. Pregnancy comes with a myriad of physical ailments that are quite uncomfortable, however one of the most commonly discussed is back pain. Organs move to make room for the baby, skin stretches, and breasts enlarge. All of these things together cause some pretty serious backaches.
Since backaches are one of the most common ailments during pregnancy it may seem silly to list it on a list for signs it’s time to get to the hospital, but it’s not. There is pregnancy back pain and then there is labor back pain. As soon as an expectant mother feels it regardless of what she may think is causing it, there is a good chance her first thought is to get to the hospital and get some relief and an idea of what's going on. What is going on is usually intense contractions being felt on the back side of the uterus, or the baby simply pushing into the mother's back during contractions. Regardless of the cause, it is a sure sign it's time to get to the hospital.
7 The Runs
Motherhood isn’t the most glamorous job regardless of what celebs would like everyone to think. Babies poop and spit up amongst a wide variety of other unpleasant behaviors, people know that. What some people don’t know is that much of the unglamorous parts of motherhood start before the baby is born or even before labor has officially begun.
Cramps can happen all throughout pregnancy and in reality are probably ligaments stretching or Braxton hicks. Running to the bathroom all the time is another common issue during pregnancy. Knowing when labor is going to come is difficult but if suddenly a woman is experiencing cramping and running to the bathroom (not to urinate), it’s almost a sure sign that baby is on its way and the mother better get to the hospital. Diarrhea certainly isn’t glamorous but it is a sign that a wonderful bundle of joy is on the way.
6 It Becomes A Bloody Show
Pregnancy is beautiful, life altering, and an all around miracle. Pregnancy also has it's less glamorous moments. And sometimes it's downright gross. From the get-go, women have to pee all the time and puke often, it's awful and all around not fun. The good news is that it ends and when it does, there is a wonderful little baby that a woman will love more than anything.
The bad news about pregnancy grossness is that it gets worse before it gets better. First the peeing and puking, then sweating and facial hair, then the third trimester comes and everything is just weird. But when everything gets really gross is right around labor time. Losing the mucus plug is one of those things that happens shortly before labor. The mucus plug is basically cervical mucus that helps to seal the cervix during pregnancy, but shortly before labor it will be released and looks much like a large quantity of discharge. The mucus plug is also often referred to as “bloody show” since the mucus is often tinted with blood.
5 Regular, Intense Contractions
A woman far into her pregnancy is usually looking for symptoms and signs of labor. However, sometimes the further a women gets into her pregnancy the busier she becomes. Some women may find they are trying to complete tasks at work and even train their temporary replacement for while they are on maternity leave. Still, other women will find they can't sit down at home and are constantly finding something around the house that needs to be done.
Whatever a woman’s reasons may be for busyness if she finds she’s suddenly stopping her tasks every couple of minutes to breathe because she has a sharp pain, she may be in labor. This is more common than most people realize. Women become so used to working around their pregnancy that they accidentally work around their contractions before they realize they are experiencing true contractions and need to get to the hospital immediately.
4 Constant Leaking
As mentioned before pregnancy can be pretty unglamorous time. This is especially true if an expectant mother doesn't know what to expect. Unfortunately for many women, Hollywood has made it more unclear what a woman should expect during pregnancy. For one thing, women expect their waters to break in a big gush, making it extremely apparent what's happening, and that they need to get to the hospital.
In reality when a pregnant woman's water breaks she may think she has just urinated. Perhaps this has happened to her at some other point in the pregnancy and she embarrassed herself by going to the hospital only to be told that she has in fact just peed her pants not gone into labor. When a woman's water actually breaks, it is uncontrollable for even a second. If a woman can do a Kegel and continues leaking its most likely that her water has broken, or if she keeps getting little spurts of liquid for a while it could be that her water has broken and each contraction is pushing more liquid out. Regardless of a woman being certain her waters have broken or not, she can start making her way to the hospital.
3 The Desire To Push
Labor and delivery are painful - when women say that labor and delivery didn’t hurt they are probably lying or are some sort of superhuman. Labor is a woman’s body slowly squeezing a human out of it and opening up to do so. Delivery is when the baby is actually making his or her grand entrance by exiting their mother. It is a painful process but also a very natural one.
Labor and delivery are so natural in fact that even when women are in extreme amounts of pain and can hardly think, they still know what to do. In fact, every woman will get a natural urge to push even though it hurts. This desire to push will be overwhelming to the point where a woman can think of nothing else. In some cases, a doctor may ask a woman to stop pushing to assist the baby, but it's almost impossible for a woman to stop pushing when the natural instinct kicks in. So if a woman has been laboring at home and suddenly feels she needs to push, then she probably needs to get to the hospital immediately because the baby is on its way.
2 The Doctor Says So
A medical degree is one of the most difficult degrees to receive. It requires four years of college, four years of medical school and then countless hours of residency and more. By the time doctors are officially doctors they are indeed experts. Obstetric doctors are incredibly qualified individuals that usually care greatly for babies and their mothers.
If an expectant mother calls her doctor and says she needs to go to the hospital, she needs to go. If the doctor sees her and says it’s time to have the baby, it is time. No matter how much a person may not be ready, a doctor almost always knows when the baby is ready to make their grand entrance, and babies won’t wait for their mothers to be ready. So if a doctor says its time to get to the hospital that means it is time to get to the hospital!
1 Baby Is Coming!
Some women are insanely tough or maybe just obtuse. As mentioned earlier some women haven't known they were pregnant until they had a baby. Still, others miscalculated their due dates and had babies at home because they assumed it was way too early to be going into labor so they ignore pains. Still, others don't feel ready and try to ignore the pains.
Whatever the case may be there is one undeniable symptom of pregnancy. That one clear cut sign is a baby making an exit whether mom is ready or not. If a mother is already pushing a baby out she obviously can't head to the hospital but an ambulance should be called to move her and the baby as soon as possible because this "sign" is happening and she and her newborn will need to see a doctor or midwife to make sure all is well.
Sources: Mommyish.com, AmericanPregnancy.org, TheBump.com, Parents.com, Study.com, MucusPlug.net