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Signs of labor

Written by Dr. Vivekanand, MBBS | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Ramya Ananthakrishnan, MD on Oct 10, 2018
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Signs of labor

Recognizing the signs of labor is quite a challenging task for the expectant mother. Different women present with different symptoms before the actual childbirth. Lucky few just walk into the labor room around their expected date of delivery on experiencing mild pains and give birth to the child quite effortlessly.


Labor pains

The word labor pain for sure raises a question in everybody's mind regarding the amount and severity of pain they would experience. Labor pain is usually a combination of emotional, functional and physiological factors. Fear, anxiety, lack of adequate knowledge about labor and delivery can contribute to pain from an emotional background. Dilatation of the cervix, uterine contractions, descent of the baby, the position of the baby, vaginal examination, and other procedures are some of the functional sources of pain. This is one of the most important and painful pain, marking childbirth.

Pains that were previously present in the third trimester known as the false pains increases in frequency and force when uterine contractions start in full vigor. The false pains otherwise known as Braxton-Hick's contractions are usually intermittent contractions that start sometime in the third trimester. The false labor pains are more common in those who are pregnant for the first time.

This is a phenomenon by which when the baby descends down, its head enters the pelvic cavity and there is falling forward of the abdomen. The pregnant woman perceives the sensation as a relieving feeling because the compression on the diaphragm is reduced and the breathlessness that she had previously experienced gets reduced. This can happen few weeks prior to childbirth in those who are pregnant for the first time. This lightening phenomenon occurs just a couple of hours before childbirth in those who are pregnant for the second or the third time

Frequency Of Urination

As the baby descends down the pelvic cavity, it exerts pressure on the urinary bladder, an organ that stores urine. This leads to increase in frequency of urination.

As the cervix dilates in a process called effacement, the mucus along the cervix gets dislodged and comes out as a muco sanguinous discharge. This phenomenon is called bloody show.

Nesting Instinct

Few hours to days before childbirth, the pregnant woman gets a sudden burst of energy. This energy drive can prompt her to undertake many activities.


Rupture Of Membranes

As the baby descends in the birth canal, the amniotic sac that surrounds the baby can rupture, releasing the amniotic fluid. This fluid however has to be differentiated from urine. Once membranes rupture it is necessary to meet your obstetrician as soon as possible because the baby has to be delivered within 24 hours of membrane rupture. The color of the draining fluid has to be noted carefully because brown colored fluid indicates that the baby is suffering from respiratory trouble (respiratory distress).


  1. Mudaliar and Menon's Obstetrics - www.babycentre.co.uk

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Having undergone the process of labor and delivery myself, all I can say is: each labor and delivery experience is different. It is the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my whole life but also the most rewarding. All the pain will vanished once you see your little bundle of joy.

Jurelyn C. Licaros

what is the mechanism of labor ?


The mechanism of labor is in several stages. In pre-labor, the uterus begins to contract, but the contractions are more gentle. The pregnant woman can usually go about her day. In the first active phase of labor, the uterus contracts more rhythmically and frequently, usually requiring undivided attention. These contractions coincide with the cervix dilating to about 10 cm to allow for the baby to pass through. In the second active phase of labor, the doctor or midwife will ask that the woman push each time a contraction occurs. This assists the uterus contractions in pushing the baby out. Finally, in the third phase, the placenta is expelled.

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