As you approach the end of your pregnancy there are a number of changes you may experience as your body prepares for the birth of your baby.
Normal changes at term
- Increased pelvic pressure
- Increase in vaginal discharge
- Increase in intensity and frequency of Braxton Hicks contractions. The contractions do not have a pattern but may become irritating to you and may make sleep more difficult.
- Intermittent back pain
- Increased fatigue and difficulty sleeping
- Increased swelling in feet
- Spotting after a pelvic exam
Signs of labor
- Contractions are regular and painful
- Increased bloody discharge
- Leaking of amniotic fluid
If you lie down and drink some water and the contractions go away, they are not labor.
When to call the doctor
- Contractions that are every 5 minutes lasting 45-60 seconds for at least 2 hours and are uncomfortable enough that you have to stop what you are doing to breathe through them.
- If you have leaking of watery looking fluid.
- If you have bleeding that is bright red and heavier than just spotting.
- If this is not your first baby, if you live far from the hospital, or if you were dilated in the office, call after 1 hour of contractions.
- If you were told that your Strep culture was positive, be sure to remind us when we return your call.
ALWAYS CALL THE OFFICE OR ANSWERING SERVICE BEFORE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL. THE ANSWERING SERVICE IS 301-446-2740.
PLEASE BE AVAILABLE TO SPEAK WITH THE DOCTOR AS ONLY YOU WILL BE ABLE TO TELL US EXACTLY HOW YOU ARE FEELING. WAIT FOR US TO RETURN YOUR CALL AND HAVE AN OPEN LINE SO WE MAY CONTACT YOU. IF YOUR LINE IS BLOCKED WE MAY HAVE DIFFICULTY GETTING TROUGH.
Other very important reasons to call the doctor
- Contractions occurring more often than 4 an hour and you are less than 35 weeks.
- Vaginal bleeding.
- Significant increase in pelvic pressure.
- Severe swelling of the face, hands or feet or gaining more than 2-3 pounds in a day.
- Blurred vision.
- Severe or constant headache.
- Severe vomiting.
- Fever over 101 degrees.
- Burning or pain with urination.
- Sharp, constant abdominal pain.
ANYTHING THAT YOU ARE SIGNIFICANTLY WORRIED ABOUT-EVEN IF IT IS 3 AM!
What will happen at the hospital?
When you arrive at Labor and Delivery, a labor nurse will assess your situation. She will check your blood pressure, put you on the monitor, check your cervix and then call the on-call doctor for an update. If you are very early or it is a false alarm, you may be sent home. Do not be embarrassed about false labor visits. They are very common; about 25% of our calls. If you are in active labor you will be admitted and the doctor will give orders to the nurse to initiate your care.
People often ask about shaving and enemas. They are no longer done when women are in labor.