If your due date is drawing near, you are probably excited and anxious about the arrival of your new bundle of joy. With this excitement, there also comes a level of uncertainty. Do I know the signs of going into labor? Am I forgetting anything for my hospital stay? Am I ready for my new baby’s arrival?
At The Woman’s Clinic, we understand you want to be as prepared as possible. This simple prep-for-labor checklist can grant you some peace of mind knowing you are properly prepared.
By the end, you will know the signs your baby is coming before your due date, what to bring to the hospital, and how to get him home safely.
Five Signs of Going into Labor
In 2017, 73% of babies arrived prior to their due dates. With a good chance of your little one arriving before the actual due date, you need to start preparing for your new baby in the third trimester, the last pregnancy stage. One of the best ways to prepare for labor is by familiarizing yourself with the signs before your due date.
Here are the most common signs of going into labor.
Two to four weeks prior to labor, expect “lightening,” the descent of the baby into the pelvis. Pelvic and rectal pressure as well as an increased frequency of urination typically accompany lightening. On the plus side, you may also experience a relief from shortness of breath as the baby settles away from your diaphragm.
Loss of the Mucus Plug
The mucus plug, sometimes referred to as the “bloody show,” is a glob of thick mucus that can be tinged with blood. It is expelled through the cervical canal and out of the vagina and sometimes followed by mild contractions. Loss of the mucus plug can occur one to two weeks before labor, just hours before, or sometimes not at all.
Braxton Hicks contractions, sometimes referred to as false contractions, are like practice contractions. They are one of the pre labor signs you should be on the lookout for during your third trimester.
Braxton Hicks can start three to four weeks before delivery and are described as irregular, mild cramping in the lower abdomen. The difference between false contractions and true labor contractions is that Braxton Hicks do not progress and get closer together in time.
If you think your water has broken, you should call your doctor right away. Your water breaking can range anywhere from a gush to a trickle of warm, clear fluid, and it is a well-known sign of going into labor.
Another sure sign of labor is when your contractions increase in intensity, frequency, and duration. The pain is described as extreme menstrual cramping felt in the lower back and abdomen.
What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
One of the top questions discussed in mom groups is what to pack in a hospital bag for labor. The answer can vary drastically.
First-time moms may be more inclined to overpack than a mom who is experiencing her second or third pregnancy, and different hospitals provide different items for mothers and newborns. Calling your hospital ahead of time to find out what is provided or inquiring during a hospital tour can be helpful.
For example, newborn diapers and some toiletry items for moms are typically provided. Our comprehensive list for expectant mothers should be packed and ready by around 34 weeks.
Among the items you definitely do not want to forget are important documents like a photo ID, health insurance card, and any other required hospital documents. Additionally, make sure your birth plan is written or printed out if you need any special arrangements.
Have a Supportive Plan for Breastfeeding
If you plan to breastfeed, you should know it has a learning curve. You can prepare for breastfeeding in advance by implementing some best practices. Stay well nourished and hydrated. Make sure you are getting all of the appropriate vitamins.
Once the baby arrives, you can build up your milk supply by frequently breastfeeding. Practice mastering the latch and holding your baby in different ways to encourage her to latch and feed.
A breast pump is sometimes recommended to allow you to express milk when you are away from your baby. Talk to a lactation consultant to help with any challenges you may encounter.
Transport Your New Baby Safely
This part of the checklist is surprisingly short if you break it down to the essentials: something for baby to wear home and a properly installed car seat. You may also want to include newborn diapers and a couple of different sized outfits — not all newborns wear the “newborn” size.
By the time you leave the hospital, you will probably be an expert in swaddling your new baby. Since newborns do not regulate their own body temperature, keeping the baby safely bundled up is critical. However, checking current recommendations for babies’ outerwear is vital; she should not be too cold or too hot.
If you are a new parent or unsure about how to properly install your car seat, visit a local child safety inspection station to be certain. These are often located at automobile dealerships, police stations, fire houses, hospitals, and other locations. You can also search for installation videos on the manufacturer’s website. Most hospitals will also check the safety of your car seat before you leave.
Take a Deep Breath
The pregnancy stages may pass in a whirl — one minute you barely show and suddenly you are experiencing pre labor signs. Remember you are fully equipped with everything you need to be totally prepared for labor and bringing a tiny, new human into the world. Soon you will be snuggling your new baby and inhaling his new-baby smell. For now, do your best to prepare for labor, take a deep breath, and relax as much as you can until birth day.
For Further Questions
At The Woman’s Clinic, our compassionate and talented team of medical professionals take pride in providing quality care. Your safety, comfort, and peace of mind are top priorities. For further questions or to schedule a prenatal appointment, contact us today!