Signs of Birth • The baby is on its way

The calculated due date is getting closer – the future parents are getting impatient. When will the baby finally be born? In addition to rather unspecific harbingers, there are also sure signs that the birth will start soon. What are they and when should pregnant women go to the hospital?

Only about four percent of children are born exactly on the calculated due date. Nature does not keep to the calendar – only the woman’s organism and the baby determine when the right time has come. But the pregnant woman’s body sends out a series of signals that herald the impending birth.

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The mother-to-be can already notice the first signs that the baby is about to be born a few weeks before the birth: From around the 36th week of pregnancy, the baby slides deeper into the pelvis in the uterus. The pregnant woman may feel contractions (including pre-pains).

These contractions of the uterus can last up to 40 seconds and vary in strength – they can be felt, for example, as a pulling in the lower back or as pressure in the abdomen. Some pregnant women experience nausea or discomfort. Unlike real labor, contractions don’t come regularly. However, if contractions repeat regularly, the baby is on its way out into the world. Then it is probably the first labor pains.

Incidentally, so-called exercise contractions can occur as early as the 20th week of pregnancy, which prepare the uterus for childbirth. They are usually accompanied by a tightening of the stomach (“hard stomach”) and are similar to menstrual pain.

Non-specific signs of approaching birth

The fact that a pregnancy is slowly coming to an end is noticeable in some women through non-specific psychological and physical signs. The following harbingers can indicate an impending delivery:

  • nest building instinct: Many pregnant women feel the increasing desire to prepare everything for the child at home. The last pieces of clothing are bought or the children’s room is redesigned.

  • Inner restlessness – or the opposite: As the birth approaches, many women become more anxious. Others, on the other hand, radiate serenity immediately before the due date and can hardly wait for the child to finally be born.

  • Altered Child Movement: Shortly before birth, the baby usually calms down. This is because the tummy is getting tight and the baby doesn’t have as much room to move.

  • Physical complaints: Pulling in the back, insomnia, muscle twitching, diarrhea or nausea are possible signs shortly before delivery.

Clear physical signs of birth

In addition to rather unspecific symptoms, there are three clear physical signs that announce the beginning of labor:

  • Departure of the mucus plug from the cervix

  • Bursting amniotic sac with loss of amniotic fluid

  • Regular labour

1. Care of a mucous plug: drawing

During pregnancy, the cervix is ​​tightly closed, and a plug of mucus (“birth cork”) forms in the cervix as a barrier against infection. Under the influence of hormones that control the birth process, the cervix gradually opens before birth. This will loosen the mucus plug. This process is also called drawing – the pregnant woman notices a pink discharge. The coloring comes from the mucus mixing with some blood.

During the last check-ups during pregnancy, the doctor also checks whether the cervix is ​​still closed. The point in time when the cervix begins to open varies greatly. Sometimes the mucus will be discharged 10 to 12 days before the onset of labor. However, this usually only happens a day or two before the birth. However, not all pregnant women notice when the mucus plug comes off.

2. Amniotic fluid leaks

If the cervix is ​​fully dilated, the so-called rupture of membranes occurs. This means that the amniotic sac has ruptured. It is not uncommon for the amniotic sac to be opened in the clinic. Usually, the amniotic fluid only comes out drop by drop, because the child’s head is already in front of the cervix and closes a possible tear.

In premature rupture of membranes, the amniotic sac ruptures before labor has started. The baby is now no longer protected by the surrounding amniotic fluid. In this emergency situation, the pregnant woman should be brought to a clinic as quickly as possible and lying down.

Sudden onset of heavy prenatal bleeding is also an indication of an impending emergency situation for the pregnant woman and the child. In most cases, the placenta detaches prematurely, which jeopardizes the care of the child during birth. In this case, the pregnant woman should be taken to the clinic immediately, preferably in an ambulance. Rapid intervention is often required to save the child’s life.

3. Onset of opening contractions

Labor is a sure sign that labor is about to begin. The uterus contracts at regular intervals, initially only sporadically, then noticeably increasing. Usually the pregnant woman feels a pulling in the abdomen or a feeling of pressure in the abdomen. This is usually followed by a cramp in the sacral region, which spreads across the abdomen and encloses it like a tight belt. Very often these contractions are felt as a wave of discomfort running through the abdomen, reaching a peak of pain and then dying away. At the same time, the uterus hardens and contracts before relaxing again.

Labor pains can no longer be controlled by relaxation techniques. They come at shorter and shorter intervals and become increasingly painful. In the initial phase, these contractions last about 30 to 60 seconds and the intervals are five to 20 minutes. Later they last 60 to 90 seconds with breaks of two to four minutes. Labor pains are easy to distinguish from pre-labor pains: Pre-labor pains usually go away when the pregnant woman walks or takes a warm bath, but labor pains do not.

Signs of Birth: When to the Hospital?

When contractions return every 15 to 20 minutes, labor begins. However, there is no need to get hectic at this point. It usually takes many hours from the onset of the first regular contractions until the baby is born. For first-time mothers, an average of eight to 14 hours is expected, but the period can also be 20 to 24 hours. With the second child and further pregnancies, women only need an average of six hours before delivery. The contractions often subside by the time you arrive at the hospital.

The rule of thumb for the start in the clinic is:

  • Contractions come at regular intervals every five to ten minutes

  • Contractions become stronger and more painful, especially when walking around.

  • Talking is difficult during labor.

However, women should keep in mind that every birth is very individual. The distance, intensity of contractions and duration of labor can vary greatly. Ultimately, the woman should listen to her gut feeling and determine for herself when the time is right to go to the hospital.

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Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by

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