Signs of birth

Dr. rer. nat. Daniela Oesterle is a molecular biologist, human geneticist as well as a trained medical editor. As a freelance journalist, she writes texts on health topics for experts and laypeople and edits scientific articles by physicians in German and English. She is responsible for the publication of certified continuing medical education courses for a well-known publishing company.

Contractions in the last weeks of pregnancy are telltale signs: Birth may be imminent – or is it just preterm labor after all? Many women are unsure about this. Because especially in the last trains of pregnancy, strong preterm labor sometimes occurs, which is confusingly similar to the so-called opening contractions. Read more about labor pains and other birth signs that herald the coming of your offspring here.

Possible harbingers of birth

A few weeks before birth, the baby changes position and the female body begins to adjust to birth. Pregnant women can feel these changes more or less clearly: the abdomen lowers, which makes it easier to breathe. At the same time, however, the pressure of the child on the bladder and intestines increases the urge to urinate and defecate. Tiredness and heaviness, loss of sleep and appetite or general restlessness are further harbingers. Not all women notice these changes. In contrast, rupture of the membranes, mucus plug discharge and contractions are recognizable and typical signs for all pregnant women.

Birth: Clear signs

A clear sign of birth is the expulsion of the mucus plug that closes the cervix during pregnancy. One to two days before birth or on the day of birth at the latest, it detaches and goes away mucous, followed by light bleeding. This process is also called drawing.

A rupture of the bladder before the onset of labor (premature rupture of the bladder) also heralds the approaching birth. In this case, you should quickly go to the hospital and inform your midwife and the attending physician. Because in the case of premature rupture of the membranes, an ascending infection can endanger the child and the mother.

Descending and preterm labor

As early as 20. In the second week of pregnancy, irregular contractions begin, which increase in regularity and intensity as the pregnancy progresses. About three to four weeks before the birth, the so-called Descending contractions, influence the change in position of the baby and the lowering of the abdomen. Read more about these contractions here.

Strong but irregular contractions Preterm labor are becoming more frequent as signs of birth, especially in the last few days. Even though these contractions are sometimes very painful, they merely cause the fetal head to be pressed firmly into the pelvic inlet. The transition to the actual labor pains, also called Opening contractions or cervical contractions are fluid.

40. SSW: Signs of birth

The so-called Opening contractions determine the actual beginning of labor. They last an average of 30 to 60 seconds each and occur regularly every five to 20 minutes. Due to these continuous contractions and various metabolic processes, the cervix gradually begins to open. Pain associated with opening contractions is perceived very differently by women.

For first-time mothers, the opening period (first stage of labor) lasts up to twelve hours. For women who have already given birth to at least one child, the duration is reduced to two to eight hours. Inform your midwife or attending physician at this stage. They will tell you when to go to the hospital or birth center, or when to prepare for a home birth. Towards the end of the opening contractions, when the cervix is fully open, there is usually a spontaneous and timely rupture of the membranes – an unmistakable sign.

Birth approaching: When to go to the clinic at the latest?

Mucus plug, rupture of the membranes and contractions are clear signs: The birth is imminent, the child is making its way. You should leave for the hospital or birth center or inform the midwife about the upcoming home birth if regular contractions come at intervals of ten minutes or less and last longer than half an hour.

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