When baby is really on the way
After nine months of weight gain, pregnancy pains and planning, the moment is finally here. Soon, you’ll be saying the words, “It’s time!”
Pack your hospital bag ahead of time. Include comfortable clothing, toiletries and any other items that will help make you feel comfortable. Most hospitals have the basics for your newborn. But you’ll want to bring a receiving blanket and baby’s going home outfit. Don’t forget to install the car seat so you can take baby home!
As your due date gets closer, you’ll notice that your baby has “dropped” or moved lower into your pelvis. Your baby is getting ready to move into position for birth. You’ll also start feeling contractions (labor pains). Contractions usually start with pain in your belly and lower back. This pain doesn’t go away when you move or change positions.
Once you’re at the hospital, your health provider will care for you and make sure you and baby are healthy during the three stages of labor.
Just how much does labor hurt? It’s different for every woman. Some women use medications to cope with labor pain. Others use breathing, relaxation and other non-drug choices. If you decide on one method and change your mind, it’s okay. Don’t feel like you gave up or let your baby down.
See also: Why the last weeks of pregnancy count, Your birth plan
Most common questions
Do I need a birth plan?
You don't have to have a birth plan. But having one is a great idea! A birth plan is a set of instructions you make about your baby's birth. It tells your provider how you feel about things like who you want with you during labor, what you want to do during labor, if you want drugs to help with labor pain, and if there are special religious or cultural practices you want to have happen once your baby is born. Fill out a birth plan with your partner. Then share it with your provider and with the nurses at the hospital or birthing center where you plan to have your baby. Share it with your family and other support people, too. It's best for everyone to know ahead of time how you want labor and birth to be.
What are Braxton-Hicks contractions?
You may feel Braxton-Hicks contractions starting early in your third trimester. They're usually painless but can be uncomfortable. They are different from true labor contractions. Braxton-Hicks don't come in a regular pattern, and they don't get closer over time. They may stop when you walk, change positions or rest. They may happen more often in the evening, especially if you're dehydrated. They may be weak and stay that way, or there may be a few strong ones followed by weak ones. You usually feel them in the lower abdomen and groin. True labor contractions come in regular intervals, get closer together and steadily stronger, and last 30 to 90 seconds. They don't go away, no matter what you do. The pain usually starts in the back and wraps around to the front. If you're having any kind of contractions and think you might be in labor, call your provider.