Be aware of both the subtle and dramatic changes that take place as your body prepares for the birth of your child.
After months of repeated visits to the physician’s office, reading book after book on pregnancy, and preparing every square inch of your home for your new arrival, it may feel like your baby is taking forever to arrive. As the third trimester draws to a close, it’s perfectly normal for women to begin to look for any sign of labor symptoms that may show that pregnancy is nearing its end. You may find yourself wondering whether each ache or pain is an indicator of the early signs of labor.
1. Your Baby Has “Dropped”
As you enter the final stages of pregnancy, your body will begin to prepare for the marathon of giving birth. Many first time mothers feel the fetus begin to descend into their pelvis several weeks in advance of their due date, while those who have previously given birth might not feel this “lightening” until labor begins.
You may notice that, although you’re waddling more than you were previously, it has become easier to breath. This is because your baby is no longer pressing against your lungs. Instead, he or she is now closer to your bladder. Many expectant mothers will notice the need to take more bathroom breaks than usual, but don’t be alarmed; it means that your baby is just a few weeks away!
2. You Have More Back Pain and Cramps
Cramps or aches are nothing to be alarmed about; it’s a normal part of the pregnancy experience. As you approach your due date, you may begin to notice an increase in cramps and back pain. This is from the stretching and shifting of your muscles and joints as your baby moves through your body, which can be a sign that your due date is drawing near. If you are experiencing pain that causes you to cry out or spasm involuntarily, or pain that makes it impossible to walk, go to the emergency room immediately or call your obstetrician.
3. Your Weight Changes
Weight gain is one of the most common changes that your body will experience as you move through your pregnancy. The average female between 19-30 years of age needs to consume approximately 2,000 calories a day to maintain their weight and function throughout the day. During your pregnancy, you will need to increase your intake of food by as much as 500 calories in order to make sure that your infant is getting all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong.
If you think that you might be approaching your due date, keep an eye on your weight. Expectant mothers who are nearing the end of their pregnancy often stop gaining weight or even lose weight. Don’t worry if you find yourself shedding pounds; it won’t impact your baby’s development at this point in the pregnancy. It most likely means that you are losing water weight, or burning more calories due to increased activity.
4. You Are More Fatigued Than Usual
Labor symptoms can be varied depending on your health and age. Many mothers often find themselves re-experiencing pregnancy symptoms that were prevalent early on in their pregnancy. Extreme fatigue is one of the early signs of labor, and you may notice that you are much more tired than usual. Rest as needed, and don’t over exert yourself.
5. You Have the Urge to Nest
If you find yourself suddenly fighting the urge to clean everything in sight or reorganize your closets, you may be experiencing what is known as “nesting.” Mothers of many species, including birds (hence “nesting”), often go through a period of intense activity and preparation prior to the birth of their offspring. Take your time and arrange your home however you please. Indulging the impulse will ease your stress while providing you with some light exercise.
No two pregnancies are alike so it’s important that you monitor any dramatic changes within your body as you approach your due date.
If you have questions about what to expect as you near the end of your pregnancy or if you are beginning to experience early signs of labor, contact The Woman’s Clinic at 501-664-4131 to schedule an appointment.