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Is There Any Way to Predict When You’re Giving Birth?

Is There Any Way to Predict When You’re Giving Birth?

When you find out you’re pregnant, all you want is to meet your bundle of joy as soon as possible. In movies, it’s simple and easy: A woman experiences contractions, goes into labor, and voila — the baby is there. In reality, it’s not that simple.

So, is there a way to predict when you’ll actually give birth?

When you browse for this topic online, you usually come across various pages and websites that will give you information about your week by week pregnancy and claim you can predict when you will go into labor. Some websites even offer a wide range of tests you can do in order to see whether you’re near labor or not. However, doctors agree about one thing — it’s not actually possible to know exactly when you will give birth. Experts still don’t fully understand what triggers the onset of labor. Your body starts preparing for labor up to a month before you give birth.

Some women aren’t even aware of this “preparing process”. But if you’re nearing the time of giving birth, pay special attention to the following signals.

1. Your baby “drops”.

The technical term is dropping or lightening, and it refers to the point when your baby drops lower in the belly and settles deep in your pelvis. For first time mothers, lightning usually occurs at the end of the third trimester, while mothers who have given birth previously may feel dropping just a few hours before they the baby arrives.

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So, how do you recognize lightening? You might have a sensation of heaviness in the pelvis and notice that pressure below your ribcage lowered. You will also notice that you can catch your breath easier than you used to, and heartburn occurs less frequently. On the other hand, increased pressure on your bladder will make you urinate more often. Some pregnant women feel pressure on pubic bones and are able to see in the mirror that their belly was lowered; others may not notice the difference at all.

2. You notice Braxton Hicks contractions.

Before your labor begins, you may experience false labor pains that are also known as Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions are your body’s way to get ready for the labor, but you should bear in mind that occurrence of Braxton Hicks contractions doesn’t mean your labor has begun. You might feel these contractions in the third trimester, or even as early as the second trimester. According to experts, Braxton Hicks contractions are perfectly normal, and you have nothing to worry about. As for how you can differentiate them from real labor, Braxton Hicks contractions:

  • aren’t usually painful
  • don’t happen at regular intervals
  • don’t get closer together
  • don’t increase when you walk
  • don’t last longer as they go on
  • don’t become severe over time

Some pregnant women describe these contractions as tightening in the abdomen that often comes and goes. Most women also report that false contractions feel like menstrual cramps. When you experience false contractions, you usually don’t have to do anything. If they make you feel uncomfortable, here is what you can do to feel better:

  • Take a walk (they usually disappear when you change position or move)
  • Get some rest
  • Listen to music or take a warm bath to relax
  • Get a pregnancy massage

3. Your cervix changes.

This is also called ripening or effacement. It’s defined as a process by which the cervix prepares for delivery. After lightening, your baby gets closer to the cervix that gradually softens and becomes thinner. By the time you’re about to give birth, your cervix will change from 1 inch in width to paper thinness. Your healthcare practitioner might check for signs of cervical change with vaginal exams during your last two months of pregnancy. Effacement is measured in percentages, e.g. 0% means no effacement while 100% means the cervix is fully effaced.

4. Your cervix dilates.

Before giving birth, your cervix starts to dilate or open up. Dilation of the cervix is checked during a pelvic exam and is measured in centimeters. For example, 0 cm means there is no dilation while 10 cm means you are fully dilated. At first, this cervical change happens slowly, but you should expect it to dilate quickly in the active stage of labor.

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5. Your vaginal discharge increases. 

Between week 37 and 40 of your pregnancy, you might spot vaginal discharge that is pink or bloody. This is also known as bloody show. During the pregnancy, a thick plug of mucus blocks the cervical opening in order to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus and harming the baby. When your cervix becomes thinner and starts to dilate, this plug may fall out. Losing the mucous is, in most cases, one of the best indicators of labor (but it’s not a guarantee). In some cases, labor could still be days or weeks away.

NOTE: Bloody show isn’t dangerous. However, if the vaginal bleeding is as heavy as bleeding during your normal menstrual cycle, you should contact your doctor because that would be a sign of a problem.

6. You feel energetic.

You might wake up in the morning and feel energetic, eager to do something. This is known as nesting. Although it’s not quite sure why women feel this sudden outburst of energy, it is assumed it’s due to the primal instinct that leads us back to the times when physical preparations were necessary before labor.

When you start feeling energetic, you should do something: Take a walk, go to a nearby store, etc. Just make sure you don’t wear yourself out. Nesting can begin a few months before the due date, but it is the strongest just before delivery.

7. Your water breaks.

You probably won’t have the Oh my God, my water just broke moment from movies. Instead, when the sac of amniotic fluid that surrounds and protects the baby breaks, it’s more likely to leak from the vagina in a gentle trickle. If you’re uncertain whether the fluid that leaks is water, urine or something else, it is advised to consult with your health care provider or head to your delivery facility right away. Some women experience contractions before the water breaks, but in some cases the water breaks first. When this happens, labor follows soon, and you should call your doctor or midwife.

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8. You experience contractions.

This is one of the most obvious signs of labor. During your pregnancy, you have probably experienced false contractions that slowly prepared your body for the big day. It was already mentioned above how you can differentiate real from false contractions. However, most women usually recognize they are dealing with real contractions because they become longer and more severe as they go on. Most doctors create a “plan” for when you will call or head to the delivery room (for example, if contractions last for around one minute, etc.).

When should you call your doctor or midwife?

Toward the end of your pregnancy, your health care provider will give you clear guidelines for when to let him or her know about your contractions or at what point you should go to the hospital. These instructions depend on your condition, and they vary from mother to mother. However, if you suspect there’s a problem with your baby, you should also make sure you call your doctor.

For example, call your doctor right away if:

  • your baby is less active
  • your water breaks
  • you experience heavy vaginal bleeding, in some cases coupled with fever and abdominal pain
  • you experience signs of preterm labor
  • you experience vision changes, headaches, pain in upper abdomen or other symptoms of preeclampsia.

Conclusion

Although it’s not quite possible to predict when you will give birth, there are some signs that will indicate the big day is near. In the meantime, all you can do is rest and prepare for the arrival of your child.

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References

http://www.webmd.com/baby/tc/pregnancy-dropping-lightening-topic-overview

http://www.babycenter.com/0_signs-of-labor_181.bc?showAll=true

http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/true-false-labor

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/signs-of-labor/art-20046184?pg=2

https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/pregnancy-center/

Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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Evlin Symon

Evlin Symon is a health and wellness expert specialized in fitness, weight loss, pregnancy, nutrition and beauty.

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Published on October 23, 2020

How to Help Your Kids to Deal with Bullies at School

How to Help Your Kids to Deal with Bullies at School

Sara is in her first year of Junior High. Every day, when Sara walks down the school hallway between her mid-morning classes, there is a group of girls who will tease, push her, or dump her books from her arms.

She wonders daily what she did to deserve their meanness. She doesn’t even know these girls as they came from a different primary school than her own. Every evening, she lays in bed and cries just thinking about having to encounter these girls in the hallway the next day.

Jeremy used to be good friends with Bill until Bill started calling Jeremy names. At first, it started as what seemed to be Bill trying to get a laugh from the other boys on his soccer team. He would make fun of Jeremy to get a laugh from the other boys. He has continued with the behavior for weeks, but it has gotten worse and Bill now calls Jeremy hurtful names at their soccer practice every day. Jeremy is thinking about quitting soccer because the situation has become so bad.

Renee was born with a congenital defect. Her arm is malformed and she only has three fingers on one hand. She is in her first year of primary school. There is a little boy in her class who makes fun of her arm and mimics her arm movements and shortened arm effect anytime they are together and a teacher isn’t watching. Renee cries at home after school saying that she doesn’t want to go to school anymore. Her parents are bewildered as she has been begging to go to school for years. Now that she is old enough to be enrolled in primary school, she doesn’t want to attend anymore after just one month of school. Her parents have no idea what is causing her to be upset and not want to go to school.

These are just three examples of bullying. Bullying can vary widely in behavior and context. Parents must know the difference between “kids just being kids” and bullying.

Bullying Defined

Bullying involves repeated behavior that harms another child. For example, the girls who continually pick on Sara in the hallway are bullying her by dumping her books, pushing her, and shoving her every day.

Bullying is not always physical, though. For example, in the situation of Jeremy, his teammate Bill is bullying him by calling him names repeatedly.

StopBullying.gov is a website about bullying that is hosted by the United States government. This website provides a clear definition of bullying as the following:[1]

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include [an imbalance of power and repetition].

An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.

Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Bullying is aggressive, mean, and/or unwanted behaviors that happen repeatedly to a child.

Intervention

Bullying, especially for kids, requires immediate intervention. If your child suddenly decides that they no longer want to go to school or that they want to quit an activity, then a discussion should occur. Sit down with your child, and ask them what is going on in their life.

Have compassion, understanding, and care in your words and tone of voice so that your child can open up to you. You never know if they are being a victim of bullying unless they open up to you and share what is occurring in their life.

Some children don’t share immediately because they are embarrassed by the bullying. Others don’t tell their parents because they are afraid of the bully. They worry that if they tell, the wrath of the bully may get worse. This should also be a concern for the parents.

Any intervention must be effective in removing the threat of the bully. If reporting the situation makes the bully’s behavior worse, then the intervention has failed.

Talk to School Leadership

Parents should talk to school leadership, such as the teacher, counselor, or principal when a bullying situation is occurring. If the bullying is happening at school, then the staff should be made aware so that they can intervene.

Most schools have policies and protocols in place for handling bullies. Such things may include separating the students so that they aren’t interacting anymore.

For example, with the situation of Renee, the boy who makes fun of her arm may be moved away from the school table they currently share. He would be moved to a separate side of the classroom so that he couldn’t easily communicate or make fun of Renee.

Then, the counselor would talk to the boy about how his actions are hurtful and why he shouldn’t be making fun of anyone. The teacher and principal may have to implement consequences, such as removal from class or suspension, that are made clear to the student and his parent if he continues his behavior.

In many instances, removing the opportunity for the students to interact is the best way for the bullying to stop. If the bully doesn’t have the opportunity to interact or communicate with the victim, their bullying behavior is stopped. This is the reason why in many instances of bullying parents need to involve school staff members (if it is happening at school).

Parents can’t control where the students sit in the classroom. However, the school can change where students sit in the classroom. Parents should speak to the school about the bullying to ensure that appropriate interventions are made, including separating the bully from their victim.

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Parents

Parents are advocates for their children. If parents do not stand up to protect their child, then who will? When a situation of bullying is revealed by a child, the parents need to take the information seriously.

Unfortunately, many parents of bullies don’t want to admit that their child is a bully. It can look and feel like they failed as parents. When a child is being bullied, that parent may reach out to the bully’s parent for intervention only to be put off. The bully’s parent may claim it is the other child’s fault, or they may insist that their child is innocent.

This is why intervention should happen at the school if possible. Parents must advocate protecting their children as bullying can leave mental and emotional scars. The sooner they can get the bullying to cease, the better.

Bullying Can Have Serious Effects

Victims of bullying can develop depression and anxiety. The ongoing bullying can impact a child mentally and emotionally long term. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center cites research that shows that both bullies and their victims are at an increased risk for suicide.[2] In recent years, suicide has been increasing among teens and pre-teens. Bullying, including cyberbullying, is one of the primary causes for the increase in suicide among our youth.

The serious—and sometimes even deadly—effects of bullying should be considered by all parents. If a child comes forward to reveal a situation of bullying, affecting either them or someone else, then parents and adults must intervene. Schools are set up to handle these situations, with policies and protocols in place. The consequences of bullying can be quite serious, which is why most schools have taken steps to institute bullying policies.

Signs of Bullying

Not all kids will come forward to tell their parents that they are being bullied. Parents should be aware of behavioral changes in their child, such as depression, anxiety, sadness, loss of interest in activities or school, sleeping issues, not eating, irritability, and moodiness. If your child exhibits any of these behaviors for a period of two weeks or more, then it is time to talk to the child about what is happening in their life.

A parent who suspects bullying may be happening can talk to their child about bullying in general. The parent can explain what bullying can look like, or they can provide an example that has happened in their own life. They can explain that it is not the victim’s fault.

Let the child know that if they see other children being bullied or if they are experiencing bullying, then they need to tell an adult (preferably you as the parent). When the child believes that telling can help the situation, that child is likely to then talk about it.

How to Help Your Kids

If your child is being bullied, you can and should help them. You can do it not only via intervention within the school but also by helping them cope with the situation.

The first step is talking—having the child open up and talk about what is happening so that you can help them with strategies to stop the bullying. You can’t help them unless you know what is actually happening.

Here are some more ways that you can help your child who is dealing with a bully:

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1. Advise Them to Avoid the Bully

If they aren’t exposed to the bully, then the bullying often stops. This is often why school intervention is needed so that the kids are separated and no longer have interactions.

If it is cyberbullying taking place (e.g., your child is being bullied on social media) then they may need to block the person who is bullying them or put their own account on hold.

2. Advise Them to Walk Away and Not Engage

Many bullies thrive on reaction. The reaction from the person being bullied is what fuels their behavior. They may be doing it to make others laugh, or they do it to feel power over another person. If the reaction from the one being bullied goes away, then the bully may become less interested.

You should advise your kids to not engage with a bully. Walking away without reacting is a good way of handling the bully.

3. Let Them Know It Is Okay to Get Help

The child should feel empowered to get help when they need it. For example, if Jeremy stays in soccer and the coach is informed about what is happening and the bullying happens again, Jeremy should tell the coach.

He can do it confidentially after practice, or he can talk to the coach off to the side during practice if possible. If Jeremy needs intervention for Bill to stop, then he needs to ask for help when it happens.

4. Build Their Confidence

Often, a bully chooses to bully someone because they see the person as a weak or easy target. Other times, a child is picked on because there is something about them that is different. Building up your child’s confidence and self-esteem is important to helping them prepare for handling bullying in the future.

For example, if another child makes fun of Renee’s arm next year in her new class, she would be prepared to shut it down by defending herself confidently with calm words that deter the child from making fun of her again.

Every situation is different. But if your child has something that makes them different or stand out from others, then they can be prepared to handle the situation better if they know in advance what they would say to someone who picks on them for this difference.

5. Encourage Them to Have Positive Friendships

Children and youth need peer relationships. This helps them live a balanced and healthy life. A child without peer relationships and friendships is more likely to be a target of bullies.

Encourage your child to make friends with others who are positive and kind. Help your child develop these skills as well. You can’t get friends unless you can be a friend.

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Be There for Your Child

One of the worst things that a parent can do when their child is being bullied is for them to say “tough it out” or “kids will be kids”. Not taking their situation seriously and not helping them is failing them. Parents must be willing to not only listen to their child and allow them to express things openly, but they must also be ready to help their child.

If your child comes to you because they are being bullied, then take the situation seriously. The lasting effects of bullying are not something you will want to deal with in the future. Deal with the situation at hand so that the bullying can cease today.

Be prepared to take serious action. If your school principal is not taking the situation seriously, then take it to the next level. Inform the school board or school administrators about what is happening. Keep the facts, and let them know you want the bullying to stop immediately.

If the school doesn’t take any action and the bully continues to be a threat to your child, then be prepared to remove your child from the situation or the school, so you can protect your child from harm. Above all else, our job as parents is to protect our children.

Bullying is not a one-time instance of someone saying something mean to your child. Bullying is a repeated act, whether physically or verbally, that is harming your child. Don’t allow your child to be repeatedly harmed. Once you know that bullying is happening, it must be stopped immediately through appropriate interventions.

Get Additional Help if Needed

If your child has been bullied and is suffering from depression, anxiety, or other emotional turmoil because of bullying then they should get professional help. You can go to Psychology Today and enter your location to find a qualified therapist near you. This website allows you to search by issue and treatment age as well. This can help you find a therapist near you who can help your child with their specific issues.

Stomp Out Bullying is another website with additional support and information about bullying. They offer a free chat line to teens who are experiencing bullying. If your teen is being bullied and needs additional support check out their website today.

Final Thoughts

Bullying, especially for kids, is a serious matter that should be addressed as soon as possible. It can bring long-term psychological and physical damage to your children if you don’t act on it immediately. Your primary role as a parent is to protect your child from harm. This guide can help you help your kids to deal with bullies to get them out of harm’s way.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] StopBullying.gov: What Is Bullying
[2] Suicide Prevention Resource Center: Suicide and Bullying

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