When the Big Day Arrives
After nine whole months of anticipation, the big day has finally arrived. Pack a bag for your hospital stay ahead of time. Include any paperwork you may need, your birth plan, and comfy clothes. Recognize labor signs and learn what to do when the moment is finally here.
Signs of labor include:
- Contractions. Contractions are the shortening of your uterine muscles, which occurs at intervals before and during childbirth. They occur at intervals of less than 10 minutes and are usually an indication labor has started. It’s also not unusual to experience periodic, irregular contractions as your labor nears.
- Your water breaks. Clear fluid that leaks from your vagina means the membranes of the amniotic sac, that once surrounded and protected your baby, have ruptured. This can occur hours before labor starts or during labor. Most women go into labor within 24 hours afterwards.
If your water breaks or you experience frequent contractions, call your doctor and family members.
Safely get on the road to your chosen hospital. And don’t forget to bring the bag you’ve packed for your hospital stay. It’s time!
Once you get to the hospital:
- Go directly to the labor and delivery floor.
What can you expect during labor? Understand these three stages of labor:
- Stage one includes latent, active, and transition phases. Your contractions become more frequent to help your cervix dilate. Your contractions get more frequent as your cervix completely dilates.
- Stage two begins when the cervix is completely opened. At this point, your doctor will tell you to push, which, combined with your contractions, propels your baby through the birth canal. Your baby’s head crowns and you continue to push to deliver your baby’s shoulders and body. Once your baby is fully delivered, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut.
- Stage three is the stage after delivery during which you deliver the placenta, the organ that nourishes your baby inside your womb.
What are pain treatment options? You may learn special breathing techniques in childbirth classes or choose to have pain medication for labor. Pain-relieving drugs for labor have two categories: analgesics and anesthetics. Talk to your doctor about the best pain treatment medication for you.