Your Pregnancy After 35 : Labor and Delivery (part 3) - Before Labor Begins

- Give Up Coffee For Beautiful Breasts
- Welcome to your First Trimester
- Welcome to your Second Trimester
- Welcome to your Third Trimester

Before Labor Begins

Prepare for delivery in advance. Have your bag packed and ready. Have insurance papers filled out and available. At best, your prenatal classes will be over, and you will have visited the labor-and-delivery area of the hospital you have chosen. You will have made arrangements for your older children to be cared for by someone you trust. You will have everything at work organized so you can leave with a clear conscience. Doing these tasks will help put you in the best possible frame of mind for what lies ahead.

You may be impatient for your baby to be born. When the day finally comes, you’ll experience new sensations as your body prepares to labor and to deliver your baby. Signs you may notice include the following:

increase of Braxton-Hicks contractions (described below)

feeling the baby drop lower into your pelvis

weight loss or a break in weight gain

increased pressure in the pelvis and rectum

changes in vaginal discharge


Braxton-Hicks contractions are painless, nonrhythmical contractions you may feel when you place your hand on your abdomen during pregnancy. They can begin early in pregnancy and usually continue until baby is born. They occur at irregular intervals and may increase in number and strength when your uterus is irritated.

The feeling of having your baby drop, also called lightening, means the baby’s head has moved deeper into your pelvis. It is a natural part of the birthing process and can happen a few weeks or a few hours before labor begins or even during labor. Often a woman feels she has more room to breathe when baby descends into the pelvis, but this relief can be accompanied by more pelvic pressure and discomfort.

Time-Saving, Energy-Saving Tip

If you have other children at home, make plans for someone to pick them up from day care or school if you go into labor when they aren’t at home. Update school or day-care permission forms to include those whom you want to pick up your children.

When Your Water Breaks

Your baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid in the uterus. As labor begins, the membranes that surround the baby and hold the fluid (“waters”) may break, and fluid leaks from your vagina. You may feel a gush of fluid, followed by slow leaking, or you may just feel a slow leaking, without the gush of fluid. A sanitary pad helps absorb the fluid.

Not every woman’s water breaks before she goes into labor. Often, membranes must be ruptured. Occasionally the bag of waters breaks before a baby is ready to be born. There are several ways a healthcare provider can confirm if your membranes have ruptured.

By your description of what happened. For example, if you describe a large gush of fluid from your vagina.

With nitrazine paper. Fluid is placed on the paper; if membranes have ruptured, the paper changes color.

With a ferning test. Fluid is placed on a glass slide, allowed to dry, then examined under a microscope. A fernlike appearance indicates it is amniotic fluid.

If you believe your water has broken, call your healthcare provider immediately. You may be advised to go to the hospital.

If you’re not near term, your healthcare provider may ask you to come to the office for an examination. You may not be ready to deliver your baby yet, and your healthcare provider will want to confirm your water has broken and to prevent any infection. Risk of infection increases when your water breaks.

True Labor or False Labor?

Considerations True Labor False Labor
Contractions Regular Irregular
Time between contractions Come closer together Do not get closer together
Contraction intensity Increases Doesn’t change
Location of contractions Entire abdomen Various locations or back
Effect of anesthetic or pain relievers Will not stop labor Sedation may stop or alter frequency of contractions
Cervical change Progressive cervical change No cervical change
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