Signs of labor and when to go to the hospital

A new mom is always looking out for signs of pregnancy that might mean that her labor is approaching. In this article, I will summarize the most common signs of labor, in addition to red flags that mean a pregnant mom needs to go to the hospital.

Nisreen Nemer
Published on:Jun 21st 2022 |Updated on:Apr 10th 2024
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Signs of labor approaching

1- Frequent urination.

2- Feeling of heaviness in the lower abdomen.

3- Swelling of the vagina.

4- Increased back pain.

5- Lack of sleep.

This annoying sign is actually a blessing in disguise. As it prepares the pregnant woman for the sleepless nights of active labor, and the first few days postpartum. 

6- Heartburn

7- Nesting

Exactly as birds prepare to welcome their little ones by making a nest. Sometimes pregnant women feel a sudden urge to clean and tidy up the house

8- Contractions

Some women feel Braxton hicks contractions or false contractions starting around the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy. They are considered training for the actual contractions. Braxton hicks don’t last for a long time, and they don’t increase in intensity, unlike the actual contractions. They can cease if the expecting mother relaxes, does breathing exercises, or has a small meal. They are similar to period cramps, and they can be also similar to abdominal spasms. In the case of preterm labor, they will increase in intensity and will happen at shorter intervals.

 9- Water breaking and membrane rupture

For a first-time pregnant mom, water flowing from her lower body can be confused with urine. This is the water surrounding the fetus, and when it breaks it means labor is approaching and it is time to go to the hospital.

10- Increase in vaginal discharge

This increased discharge of brownish color, or if it contains blood, is known as the “Show sign”. And is one of the signs of labor that indicate that labor is starting soon.

Red flags during pregnancy

1- Sudden bleeding

Bleeding can happen due to a fall, an emotional, or physical trauma. Bleeding during pregnancy must not be left unchecked, and a visit to the hospital is a must.

2- Abnormal Vaginal discharge

It is essential that every woman is aware of her vaginal discharge. And in case of any abnormal discharge, she must consult with her doctor.

3- Severe abdominal pain

As mentioned above the Braxton Hicks or the false contractions, cease after a while. This is why an expecting mother needs to go to the hospital if she experiences continuous abdominal pain.

4- Swelling of the face, hands, and legs

These might be signs of gestational hypertension or preeclampsia. Especially if the skin is pushed deep inside when pressured. It is noteworthy that swelling of the feet in the last trimester might happen due to excessive weight, and it usually subsides with some rest and elevating the legs.

5- Vision problems

Any blurry vision or any other vision issues during pregnancy must not be ignored. They might indicate gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, or preeclampsia.

6- Severe headache

Headaches during pregnancy are normal especially early on. But a severe persisting headache needs a doctor’s consultation.

7- Decrease or cessation in fetal movement

If the baby moves less than ten times a day or stops moving completely, these are serious signs that require a hospital visit.

8- Painful urination

Pain or a bun during urination might indicate an infection, which requires medical treatment.

9- High fever, flu, cold, or Covid symptoms

Any of these symptoms require a hospital visit for further investigation.

Check out A guide for the Husband: how to support your wife during pregnancy

Nisreen NemerDoula

Nisreen graduated as a registered nurse from Sharjah University and received her master’s degree in Public Health from Hamdan Smart University. She is a lactation specialist, AMANI childbirth educator, Certified from AMANI Childbirth in Saudi Arabia, and a Doula. With years of experience in woman’s health care and health education, especially the education of pregnant women, to help them be prepared for childbirth. Nisreen dedicates all her time to supporting women in their motherhood journey and makes sure she does her role as a birth companion perfectly. She is always there for her clients from the first contraction, until the baby is born. She is passionate about helping women through birth and breastfeeding and other steps in their motherhood journey.

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