So, you’re the first one of your friends to give birth and no one has told you what to experience? You may be in for a shock! Let me help you with all the things nobody tells you that you’ll experience during labor and delivery. Keep scrolling for a glossary of things your body experience during labor and delivery.
This is what is considered false labor. These contractions feel like real labor contractions, but they don’t progress into actual labor. These type of contractions can start as early as the second trimester, but most women won’t feel them until later on in the pregnancy.
Oh man. This one is crazy! It’s the overwhelming urge to clean and prepare your home for the baby’s arrival. You might also end up baking 3 pies the night before you go to the hospital.
As your baby drops lower into your pelvis in preparation for birth, you may experience a sensation of pressure in your vagina and rectum. This is caused by your baby’s head pressing on your pelvic floor muscles. Again, another sign that your baby is about to be here!
The Mucus Plug/Bloody Show
You know that thing blocking your cervix? It’s called the Mucus Plug and yeah, that comes out. Sometimes in one giant glob, sometimes in little bits over the course of a few days. But it definitely comes out. It can also be called the Bloody Show because it is often tinged with blood.
While it’s not a fun thing to happen, this can be a very exciting moment because it means that your labor will be starting soon!
When your baby’s head drops down into your pelvis, it is said to be engaged. This can happen from a few weeks before labor up to a day or two, or even a few hours before labor begins.
This is the body’s way of getting ready for birth. Contractions help to thin and open the cervix (the opening to the uterus) so that your baby can pass through the birth canal. Contractions also help to move your baby down into the birth canal.
Contractions can feel like a tightening or cramping in your lower abdomen. They may be mild at first, but as labor progresses, they will become stronger and more frequent. Some women compare contractions to menstrual cramps, while others say they feel more like strong pressure or tightening.
Dilation and Effacement
The process by which your cervix opens and thins in preparation for birth. Dilation is the process by which your cervix opens from 0 to 10 centimeters. Effacement is the process by which your cervix thins from its original thickness (about 3-4 inches) to paper thin. This allows your baby to pass through the birth canal more easily. Our bodies are amazing, aren’t they!!
This is when the sac of fluid that surrounds your baby breaks open. It can happen before or during labor, and sometimes even after labor has begun. Contractions usually intensify after water breaking, so if you’re in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and head to the hospital.
Some vaginal bleeding is normal during labor and delivery. This is perfectly normal and nothing to be worried about. However, if during labor you’re soaking through a pad every hour, or the blood is bright red, call your provider immediately. It could be a sign of something more serious.
Nausea and Vomiting
A lot of women have nausea and vomiting during labor, especially during early labor. It could be because of the stress of labor, or it could be a sign of dehydration. Either way, it’s important to keep the downing the liquids. Drink clear fluids like water or Gatorade, and if you’re feeling really nauseous, try sipping on some ice chips.
Labor pain is different for everyone, but it’s usually described as a deep ache in the lower back that comes in waves. Some women compare it to menstrual cramps, while others say it’s more like intense pressure.
You might be surprised how much you have to go to the bathroom during labor. It’s important to empty your bladder regularly so that you don’t get dehydrated.
This is something that no one really likes to talk about, but it’s a reality of labor and delivery. As your baby moves down the birth canal, they can put pressure on your rectum, causing you to poop. It’s not exactly the most glamorous part of the experience, but it’s totally normal.
Labor can be a sweaty business. You might find yourself drenched in sweat, even if the room is cool.
Some women shake uncontrollably during labor. This is called “transitional shaking” and it’s your body’s way of releasing tension.
Whew! Hopefully you’re still ok by the end of this post. It’s a lot to take in. One thing’s for sure – having a great team of birth workers around you in this time helps you take in everything in time and without shame. Trust me, as a two-time mom and birth worker, I’ve seen it all and it is all NORMAL.
What other questions do you have? I’m happy to share my experiences and answer anything else that’s not addressed here. Let’s chat!