Signs That Labor is Knocking On Your Front Door

There comes a time during pregnancy when I am just DONE. It usually hits me around 35 weeks and from that point on, the days seem to never end. I have arrived.

When I’m this far along, I really start looking for signs that labor is approaching. After being pregnant so many times, I know what is pretty normal/standard for me. During my first pregnancy, I didn’t have a clue what to look for. I mean really look for. If this is your first baby, some of this may be helpful.

Right now, I’m 35 weeks and one of the biggest signs that the baby is coming happened 4 weeks ago….waaaaaaaay early for me. At the beginning of my 31st week, my baby dropped, or became close to fully engaged, into the birth canal. This is also called Lightening, but I never use that term.

During pregnancy, a baby can move, flip, roll…etc…all over the place. Even when things get extremely cramped, the baby can do some pretty surprising stuff. A few weeks before labor begins, however, many babies will get into a head down position and actually drop into the pelvis…so, they are no longer “floating”, as you may hear your doctor say. When this occurs, they are fixed right there for the remainder of their stay. Their head presses on the cervix and causes it to thin out, or efface. Effacement has to occur some before dilation can begin, so this is all a very good thing!

Before a baby engages, the mother will experience a feeling of fullness. Her uterus has grown so much that it’s pushing everything up, crowding the rib cage. She may experience shortness of breath, not being able to finish a meal, intense heartburn/acid reflux, and even pain. Sitting down often hurts as it even lessens the amount of space needed to breathe comfortably.

BUT, when the baby drops, those feelings are instantly replaced with pressure down low. Heartburn may completely disappear, breathing becomes a thing of ease, meals become enjoyable, and sitting is, once again, comfortable for the most part. The down side is the pressure and feeling like the baby may fall out & the fact that you almost always feel like you need to pee.

This has happened quite early for me this time. The earliest a baby has dropped for me was 32 1/2 weeks & she came 5 weeks later. I’m not sure if this baby will hold out for 7 weeks fully engaged, but we’ll see. (I usually go into labor naturally at 38 weeks.)

So, dropping/baby becoming engaged is a big sign, but it may not happen until just before labor starts. Everyone is different.

Another sign has to do with the changing of your bowels. I know…nice. So let’s just say that if you’ve been constipated for a while, you won’t be anymore….and eventually you will be the exact opposite of constipated. Pregnancy hormones will start changing & cleaning out your system will be a top priority to make more room for the baby to pass through the birth canal. This is definitely a sign I pray for.

More intense Braxton Hick’s contractions is another sign. These practice contractions are sometimes even confused with real labor contractions. The difference is that true labor contraction pain usually starts in the back and moves around to the front. If you are just having a little cramping in the front, it’s probably not the real thing, although it could be. I will be bold in stating that if you are truly in labor, though, you will probably know it. And the pain of the contraction will start in your back because true labor contractions involve the whole uterus, not just parts of it. But everyone is different.

Nesting is another big sign, but so is extreme fatigue. For me, nesting starts early, not right before labor. I have lots of packing to do and we live an hour away from the hospital. I already have all the kids’ clothes packed & in the car, along with the baby’s clothes. I have a bag packed for me & Rooster in our bedroom specifically for the hospital just in case I go into labor earlier than I expect. I keep up with laundry like a crazy person & my house stays clean. Rooster loves it when I’m nesting.

Extreme fatigue comes as I get really close. I still have to work to keep it all ready, but it kills me. All I want to do is lay down. Taking breaks is important, but not something I get a whole lot of.

Another sign is losing your mucous plug. As you get close to going into labor, hormones will start to release the mucous plug. Sometimes it comes out in one big chunk (nice), but for me, it comes out gradually. I usually start seeing it around 36 weeks, but it started at 34 this rodeo. It can be yellowish, pinkish, brownish, or bloody (watch out, girl). Last week it was yellowish for me. Now it’s brown, which indicates old blood, or pinkish, which is usually the breakage of tiny blood vessels as you efface & dilate.

Effacement & dilation. Unless you’ve had preterm labor issues, you’ll probably not have your cervix checked until you’re 36 weeks. By this point, many women have started to thin out and some even start to dilate. I have always been 50% thinned or more and dilated 1 cm by my 36th week check up. It starts early for me, but some women don’t have any cervical change until labor begins.

I usually feel sick or just not “right” the day I go into labor. One time I threw up while I was taking my shower before church. One time I left a family function a bit early because of an overall “sick” feeling. Once I couldn’t do anything except for walk around constantly.

These “signs” or “symptoms” are different for every mother, but our bodies do naturally gear up for that big day, though the changes for some might be subtle & completely obvious for others. Paying close attention is important, no matter how many times you’ve been pregnant.

So, labor has already started knocking at my door, though a bit early. When expected company knocks early, or unexpected company suddenly appears, my blood pressure goes up, my face gets red, and steam comes out of my ears.

But labor…….when it’s a sweet baby, arriving a bit early is a welcomed thing of joy…..

……as long as there’s no loud banging. Or ringing the doorbell and then running off right before I get there..

So, expect company at some point, girls. And hopefully you will be able to recognize some of the signs that will tell you that labor is somewhere in the neighborhood.

Lisa

The Most Brilliant Way to Naturally Induce Your Labor

I have been pregnant for 1,786 days to date….one-thousand, seven-hundred and eighty-six days…

I’m not complaining. Just merely stating a fact.

However, many many many of those days, were spent wishing that I were not so pregnant anymore. This is a feeling that I’m pretty sure 99.999% of all expectant mothers eventually feel. There just comes a time when we are DONE.

I’m 25 weeks pregnant with my 7th baby right now, so I haven’t reached the point of no return just yet, but I’m getting there a lot quicker this go round. I’m already starting to waddle and swell when I sit for too long. I was walking/waddling up to our barn this afternoon and I couldn’t believe how tough the last few steps had become. It made me a bit nauseous.

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And the Winner of the Broody Chick's First Giveaway is…………

It’s November!!!  Finally.  If I see one more Halloween decoration that I forgot to put away, I may lose my mind.

Ahhhhh……so.  Before I get right to the winner of my very first giveaway, I just wanted to say that I’ve missed you.  I have not looked at my blog in a week because we had a very unexpected and uninvited guest show up at our house last Tuesday.  Her name?  Mrs. Stomach Virus.  And she decided to spend about 5 days with us.  She was the worse house guest imaginable.

And no, people……we didn’t get the virus because we no longer vaccinate.  I’m sure someone will snicker about that one.  😉

Alright.  Down to business!!

I have written all the names down on a piece of paper and they are all folded up.  I know, I know….I’m doing it old school.

Okay.   Drum roll please……………………………..

And the winner is….

LEAH ELLIOTT !!!!

Congratulations, Leah!  Thank you so much for reading my blog and entering the giveaway!!!  You’ll be getting an email from me soon!  🙂

And I also want to thank everyone who entered and/or has supported me as started this new journey as the broody chick.  Your love and support means so much.

Oh, and if you’re quite sore because you didn’t win this time, don’t blame me.  Rooster was the name drawer.

Lisa

And the Winner of the Broody Chick’s First Giveaway is…………

It’s November!!!  Finally.  If I see one more Halloween decoration that I forgot to put away, I may lose my mind.

Ahhhhh……so.  Before I get right to the winner of my very first giveaway, I just wanted to say that I’ve missed you.  I have not looked at my blog in a week because we had a very unexpected and uninvited guest show up at our house last Tuesday.  Her name?  Mrs. Stomach Virus.  And she decided to spend about 5 days with us.  She was the worse house guest imaginable.

And no, people……we didn’t get the virus because we no longer vaccinate.  I’m sure someone will snicker about that one.  😉

Alright.  Down to business!!

I have written all the names down on a piece of paper and they are all folded up.  I know, I know….I’m doing it old school.

Okay.   Drum roll please……………………………..

And the winner is….

LEAH ELLIOTT !!!!

Congratulations, Leah!  Thank you so much for reading my blog and entering the giveaway!!!  You’ll be getting an email from me soon!  🙂

And I also want to thank everyone who entered and/or has supported me as started this new journey as the broody chick.  Your love and support means so much.

Oh, and if you’re quite sore because you didn’t win this time, don’t blame me.  Rooster was the name drawer.

Lisa

What Mamas Really Need for the Hospital…and What They Really Don't

If this is your first baby, you’ve probably looked at a million lists of things you need for the hospital when you have your baby.

It’s been a long time since I’ve actually looked at one of those lists because I’ve got my “absolutely must-have” list and my “don’t-even-bother-with-it-because-you know-you-never-even-get-it-out-of-the bag” list permanently embedded into my brain.

Some items change with each rodeo, but there are staples that have made my later stays so much better than the early ones.

I’m not just going to give you a “what you need” list. I’m going to add the “why you need it” part, so that you can see why I recommend it, and then decide whether or not it’s something you want to include.

Packing my bags and the baby’s bags is a time I so look forward to, cause that means you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

OK! So, let’s do this.

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What Mamas Really Need for the Hospital…and What They Really Don’t

If this is your first baby, you’ve probably looked at a million lists of things you need for the hospital when you have your baby.

It’s been a long time since I’ve actually looked at one of those lists because I’ve got my “absolutely must-have” list and my “don’t-even-bother-with-it-because-you know-you-never-even-get-it-out-of-the bag” list permanently embedded into my brain.

Some items change with each rodeo, but there are staples that have made my later stays so much better than the early ones.

I’m not just going to give you a “what you need” list. I’m going to add the “why you need it” part, so that you can see why I recommend it, and then decide whether or not it’s something you want to include.

Packing my bags and the baby’s bags is a time I so look forward to, cause that means you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

OK! So, let’s do this.

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Braxton Hicks vs True Labor Contractions

Every pregnant woman probably wonders about this at least a few times during their third trimester. Are these Braxton Hicks, or am I really going into labor???

I have been there way too many times. It took 4 pregnancies before I finally realized the true difference between the two.

I remember having my first contractions when I was 25 weeks with my first baby. I had NO idea what I was feeling. I seriously thought that the baby turned over & that the hard-as-a-rock area on my belly was her pushing her back against me. I was so clueless.

Braxton Hicks are real contractions, but they aren’t strong enough to change your cervix. They are the “practice” contractions. Your uterus starts contracting very early on, but feeling them at first is difficult. I mean, you probably would never notice.

I’m almost 17 weeks and I just had one. They don’t hurt. The uterus just tightens up and then releases. Just practicing for the big day.

But why do so many women confuse the two?

It’s very easy.

As you approach your due date, Braxton Hicks become stronger and more frequent. They can take your breath away & that right there is very concerning. They can come at regular intervals, too, making you wonder what in the heck is going on.

I have an irritable uterus, which basically means that I have contractions very early on..but they become much more regular between 25 and 30 weeks. I’ll have days when I contract 30-50 times. Some are mild, some are quite strong, and come anywhere from 20 minutes apart all the way to 1 or 2 minutes apart, consistently.

They have sent me to the hospital on several, several occasions, only to be sent home because my cervix was softened, but not dilating. This can get extremely frustrating, especially if you are beyond 37 weeks because by that time we WANT THE BABY OUT.

Having 3O contractions a day is not the norm, so if you are experiencing this, you must tell your doctor. Even if they don’t hurt. The problem with having so many, so often is that they can soften your cervix.

When you’re pregnant, your cervix becomes thick to protect your uterus. When you approach the end of your pregnancy, your cervix will begin to soften (efface). It must efface some before you can begin to dilate. Braxton Hicks contractions can help get this started. The problem occurs if the cervix thins out too much too soon because of these practice contractions.

When I was on my 3rd pregnancy, I was experiencing frequent Braxton Hicks. Some were strong, some weren’t, but I just felt like I was having too many. When I was 28 weeks, I told my doctor. He was concerned and wanted to check my cervix via ultrasound. I was 75% effaced….I should have been 0% effaced.

I was put on bed rest immediately and had to take medication. I also had to come in every week to have my cervix checked. It was very scary time. The medication didn’t help, nor did bed rest.

I ended up going to the emergency room at 30 weeks because the contractions would not slow down. That situation put me into the hospital for 3 days. It deserves its own post, which I will be writing very soon.

Ok. So, real contractions vs Braxton Hicks.

Before I get into this, please understand that this has been my experience. Every pregnancy is different and your situation may not mirror mine. If you are ever concerned, call your doctor.

Real contractions usually, but not always, hurt. They usually start out mild and get stronger and stronger & closer together.

Braxton Hicks usually don’t hurt. They are kind of all over the place. I have so many pieces of paper in my pregnancy journals that show the timing of my Braxton Hicks. They may be 6 minutes apart, then 3 minutes apart, then back to 6, then down to 2, then back to 7…etc. There’s little to no consistency.

Real contractions feel just like menstrual cramps. You will feel it start, peak, then go back down. They may start out 20 minutes apart or more, but they will get closer & closer together, not further & further apart. So, you could have your first real contraction at 1:00pm, the next at 1:20pm, then one at 1:40pm…all 20 minutes apart. But the next one may be at 1:55pm, just 15 minutes later. They will also gradually get stronger….they will eventually be much, much, much stronger than any menstrual cramp you’ve ever had. If you start experiencing anything like this, just go straight to the emergency room. Or immediately call your midwife if you’re having a home birth…etc.

I waited WAY too long the first time I ever went into labor. I was 38 weeks, so I wasn’t absolutely sure that this was it. Very soon, I realized that it was the real thing because my contractions made a drastic turn as far as pain was concerned. I made it to the hospital & had the baby 30 minutes after walking in the emergency room doors—without an epidural, which was not fun. If you want an epidural, I wouldn’t mess around with that stuff. Get to the hospital. The worse thing they’ll do is send you home if it’s not the real thing.

If you are having a lot of Braxton Hicks, there are a few things you can do to try to calm them down.

  • Drink a lot of water. Even if you are the slightest bit dehydrated, your uterus can become irritated. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Take Motrin or Alieve and lay down on. Swap sides as you become uncomfortable, but being on your left side is best.
  • Take a warm bath. The heat helps calm contractions.

So, Braxton Hicks & labor contractions are different, but you can have a Braxton Hicks one minute and a true labor contraction the next. There should be something that sets them apart, but it may be more subtle than I have described. Just pay close attention and be ready to have that baby!

Lisa