Pregnancy is a wonderful time of life. Naturally, for the woman who is carrying the bun in the oven, some moments will fall short of enjoyable, and some will be downright unpleasant, but taken on the whole, pregnancy is something to be marveled at.
And it’s not only the delivery – the whole process of the body gradually filling out by trimester is engrossing. Long before the birth, multiple changes occur that are aimed at preparing the body for the ultimate glory of letting the baby into the world. The woman may be overwhelmed by the changes or she may be able to lead her usual life (considering she is carrying a growing body within, of course!). There are women who don’t manifest any pregnancy symptoms before contractions begin. But it won’t occur this way with those who are about to give birth for the first time.
After a long wait, when the baby is almost due, other changes set in, indicating that it may be coming out in a matter of several days. Needless to say, there are signs which are not hard-and-fast, but can be different with different women. Yet a woman who had the training going through nine-month changes will notice that things are coming to a head. Her instinct prompts her that the body is all set for the occasion: her feelings and thoughts are different from those she had before. Some of them are listed below for you to see whether your baby is likely to be coming in the next three-four days.
You want to nest
The desire to nest generally appears during the third trimester, for it is a natural one for the would-be mom, but as the trimester is drawing to a close the feeling begins to grow on you. It has to do with your deepest motherly instincts. The estradiol hormone level is believed to be active in strengthening this feeling. Psychologically it means you begin to see your surroundings as a nest for the baby who is on the way: it must be cozy and safe against his arrival.
Effacement has occurred
If you are not quite sure what it means and you have a baby inside, you should look into it. The term describes the process when the cervix starts to thin. The cervix has to go through the process of thinning because it will allow the child to travel out easier, making the way down and along the canal shorter.
Therefore when it’s about time the cervix has ripened, and you know that the day is near. During the last month or two, your doctor will be looking for signs of effacement and will inform you if he finds your cervix ready. Your body is moving on to the final stage.
Joints begin to loosen up
When labor is imminent, your body will set the process of overall loosening. To facilitate the delivery the pelvis and the muscles around it must be as loose as possible, so the baby can push through easier. The point is, the hormone that is generated for that purpose isn’t aimed at the pelvis particularly but produces its relaxing effect throughout the body.
Consequently, you begin to feel wobbly when standing or walking. Try to feel if it is caused by the misbalance or there are additional factors at work, like relaxin running through your body. All your ligaments will feel the effect.
Frequent adjournments to the washroom
Pregnancy has already been causing your changes in your toilet habits. Probably you begin your days there due to bouts of morning sickness. As the fetus kept growing bigger, you needed to urinate more often. And if you altered your diet drastically, or your eating habits have become completely weird, your bowels will start reacting strangely.
Anyway, the nearer to the estimated date, the more frequently you will want to adjourn to the loo. That would be the relaxin hormone spreading through the body and indiscriminately loosening up all muscles – including those of the rectum.
Onsets of nausea
If your morning sickness has come and gone, and you believed you left it behind, think again! You are not free yet, for many would-be mothers are bound to have attacks of sickness at the latest stage. All of sudden nausea swells up in you and you are totally drowned in it, maybe even vomiting uncontrollably just where you are sitting.
There is nothing nice about it, it feels as if you have developed the flu; but maybe it is here to tell you that you are within a week of labor. Your uncomfortable feeling may be the cause of hormone level changes, blood pressure, and the general condition of the body getting primed for oncoming labor.
Skin breaking out in spots is most likely to occur at the beginning and/or at the end of the nine months. Changing eating habits often has to do with your skin coming all over in small pimples. Pregnant women are apt to take up other kinds of diets (some of which may be quite odd), suddenly increase intake of some foods and exclude other foods.
There is no definite proof, though, that it leads to skin outbreaks (unless you began to go heavy on chocolate and stuff like that). Sometimes you can develop pimples when the baby is almost due, but that means there are active hormonal changes going on in your body.
By this time the fetus has grown as much as it could and is primed to go out into the world. The pressure is at its worst. Before you get that inflow of relaxin that will go through the body and loosen the strain, your joints will have to bear a lot of pressure.
As you have already felt, with the baby getting bigger, the pressure on your lower muscles grows making you want to urinate more often. The time spent in the toilet will increase with the oncoming of the last week of pregnancy.
The shape of the stomach also changes
With the continuation of pregnancy, the belly is not only growing, but also changing its shape with every trimester. It goes on until you feel totally misshapen and controlled by your stomach. When you begin to think you may burst any minute, it changes shape again. It goes for the latest stage especially when the baby begins to move about for a more comfortable position that will facilitate the exit when contractions start. So your stomach alters its shape to accommodate the fetus.
Crimson spots on toilet paper
We have two almost certain signs telling that the baby would be coming in a matter of days. What is sure to inform you that the great day is almost upon you is a loss of the mucus plug. An even more eloquent sign of imminent labor is when you leave red splotches using toilet paper.
If you see red traces for the first time and get cold feet thinking something has gone wrong, cool down, for it is perfectly all right. It means the cervix is getting thin in preparation of labor. It causes dilation of blood vessels some of which fail under the strain.
You cannot eat much
Your eating habits underwent numerous changes during your pregnancy. At first, you develop unexpected cravings, sometimes for strange foods, your appetite grows, so that some women delve into food like crazy. But as the third trimester wears on, eating becomes uncomfortable, and many mothers get off food. They think that if they eat an extra morsel they may squeeze the baby out. It can certainly seem so since by that time the fetus has taken up all available space. Once the discomfort sets in, it means the baby is big and ready to make its entrance.
The fetus comes down
It sounds as if you were already in labor! No, not yet. When we speak of baby coming down, or dropping, it means it is getting ready for the birth. But this preparation could precede the delivery by several days or even weeks. The most common time for the fetus to drop is within the week before labor. What it exactly describes is that the baby lowers itself into the pelvis with its head down. The head presses on the bladder when it happens, making you go to the toilet rather often.
Blood pressure changing
As labor is approaching, your blood pressure is also going to change. It is bound to rise a little – but with some mothers-to-be, it may be quite a dramatic rise. You will do well to take it seriously, even if it is not so noticeable. No need to worry, but it would be better to make sure it isn’t caused by complications like preeclampsia.
More probably rising blood pressure reflects processes in the body, hormonal levels changing, strain increasing, not to forget about the general stressfulness of the condition. Yet get your doctor’s opinion on it.
Another thing you can expect during one or two weeks before labor is attacks of dizziness. They are brought along for various reasons. The baby has grown and you are as big as you can be. The simplest activities become uncomfortable, you cannot even walk properly. The relaxin level is unusually high, loosening up your body. This alone is sufficient to bring on dizzy spells. Then again, you may get dizzy because you are still managing your affairs and get overworked. Now is the time when you need all the rest you can get, so mind you don’t overdo it.
The kind of contractions known as Braxton-Hicks ones is actually not the real thing. If you happen to get these, do not overreact, it doesn’t mean you are going anywhere. A pity, because Braxton-Hicks contractions can be as painful as they are unrelated to real labor. Their onset generally takes place at 20 weeks or so. But sometimes they can come on a short time before the baby is due. In this case, they are often stronger and could be more frequent than usual. Take care and figure out whether it’s a false alarm or your labor has begun!