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Maternity Care

Delivery of a baby is a major event in any woman’s life. The day that you have been waiting for will soon arrive. There is no doubt you are excited, tired of waiting, and maybe a little nervous. What you would like to know is what to expect and when will the baby arrive, but for each pregnant woman the answer is different. It may also be different each time you have baby. Some changes take place that may signal the approach of labor. These changes are listed here:

Lightening, also referred to as the baby dropping, is the process of your baby moving down lower into your pelvis. Itusually occurs from a few weeks to a few hours before labor begins. As a result, it may become easier to breathe; however, you might start urinating more as the baby may be resting on your bladder. You may also feel more pressure in your lower pelvis.

Increase in vaginal discharge may be clear, pink, or slightly bloody. A thick mucus plug has accumulated at the cervix during pregnancy to prevent bacteria from entering the cervix. When the cervix begins to dilate, the plug is pushed into the vagina. This may be referred to as passing your mucous plugor a bloody show.You may lose your mucus plug all at once, or it may happen over time. You may notice an increased discharge that is thick and stringy or pinkish red mucus. A small amount of red spotting may occur, but it should not be a flow. If there is a continuous flow of bleeding, please contact our office immediately.

Diarrhea and nausea may also occur early in labor due to hormonal changes taking place. If you are nauseated, it is best not to eat, but you can drink water.

Rupture of membranes commonly is referred to as your water breaking. This happens when the amniotic sac around the baby breaks and allows for a leaking or flow of amniotic fluid. It may be a gush or burst of fluid or it may just be a steady trickle. If this happens, please contact our office. This can happen while you are having contractions, or it may occur with no warning at all. Sometimes this doesn’t happen until you get to the hospital, or your healthcare practitionermay rupture the membranes to assist with labor.

Effacement is the process of your cervix softening and thinning out. This process can take weeks. You may not feel this happening at all or you may experience some cramping or Braxton Hickscontractions. These contractions can be mild to moderate, and they are usually irregular and will not increase in intensity. Many women experience these contractions as a tightening feeling across the belly. Your healthcare practitionerwill identify these changes during your vaginal exams.

Dilation is the process of your cervix beginning to open (dilate) to prepare for childbirth. Your healthcare practitionerwill check your cervix for these changes, usually starting at thirty-sixweeks.

Contractions may be difficult to assess in the early stages and may start and stop for weeks. The common contractions that women experience such as tightening across their abdomen are called Braxton Hicks contractions. You may notice these contractions occurring more frequently in the final weeks of pregnancy. They may be mild or even moderately intense as you get closer to your delivery date. Often this can be referred to as false labor.Labor contractions will be more uncomfortable and continue to increase in intensity. False labor generally will not progress to very intense contractions that get closer together and will usually subside if you go for a walk or try to relax. When you cantime your contractions and they are getting close to five minutes apart (timing them from the start of one contraction to the start of the next), then you should prepare to go to the hospital. When they are lasting one full minute and continuing this way for one hour, then you are usually in labor and should contact our office. During true labor, nothing you can do will alleviate the contractions.

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