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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 March 13, 2019

What Makes A Great Place to Work Whilst Pregnant

What Makes A Great Place to Work Whilst Pregnant

Among women who had their first child in the early 1960s, just 44% worked at all during pregnancy. The latest figures show that 66% of mothers who gave birth to their first child between 2006 and 2008 worked during their pregnancy.[1]  It also showed that about eight-in-ten pregnant workers (82%) continued in the workplace until within one month of their first birth which has vastly increased from 35%. It is clear to see form the statical trends that more women are choosing to continue working through, and late into, pregnancy.

Unlike other developed world countries, the USA does not mandate any paid leave for new mothers under federal law,[2] though some individual employers make that accommodation and it is mandated by a handful of individual states. Finding what makes a great workplace whilst pregnant can alleviate stress and provide more stability for you and your family. 

In this article, you will discover exactly the best places to work whilst pregnant.

How Difficult Is It to Work Whilst Pregnant?

Many people strive to find and attain good jobs. For pregnant women, however, that process is often especially challenging. After all, you’ll face extra obstacles that are unique to expectant mothers.

If you are pregnant and need a job, then you’re definitely not alone. You are also not alone if you’re already employed and want to find a new job that is more family-friendly. Changing jobs while pregnant is something that many women consider, especially when they realise that their current positions may not be suitable for pregnancy or offer the benefits or flexibility that they’ll soon need. 

Getting a job while pregnant may not be the easiest thing in the world to do, but it is possible.

You can look for employment opportunities that don’t require too much physical exertion and that won’t cause you much emotional stress. Also, look for jobs that come with the chance to work flexible hours, offer good medical benefits, allow you to take time off as needed, and don’t require a long commute. In addition, it’s obviously wise to consider avoiding jobs that may expose you to toxins, people with communicable illnesses, or other physical hazards.

The Pre-Natal Mamma’s Needs

During pregnancy, there are many mental and physiological changes that a woman will go through. In understanding those changes, it is more clear which types of jobs and workplaces are more suited to you as a pregnant woman. 

During pregnancy, the birth of your baby and the postnatal period, changes in the hormones in your body can have an effect on your emotions during pregnancy. These hormones and the changes can cause joy, fear, surprise and anxiety all of which can be assisted with necessary support and talking. 

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The physiological changes are more varied according to each trimester:

1st Trimester (0-13 weeks)

In the first few weeks following conception, your hormone levels change significantly. Your uterus begins to support the growth of the placenta and the fetus, your body adds to its blood supply to carry oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby, and your heart rate increases.

These changes accompany many of the pregnancy symptoms, such as fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, and constipation. During the first trimester, the risk of miscarriage is significant.

2nd Trimester (13 – 27 weeks)

While the discomforts of early pregnancy should ease off, there are a few new symptoms to get used to. Common complaints include leg cramps and heartburn. You might find yourself growing more of an appetite, and your weight gain will accelerate. 

3rd Trimester (28 weeks – birth)

Travel restrictions take effect during the third trimester. It’s advised that you stay in relatively close proximity to your doctor or midwife in case you go into labor early. The baby is growing bigger and stronger; the kicks can be quite powerful and your abdomen is becoming larger and heavier.

Stretch marks may develop if they haven’t earlier in the pregnancy. Braxton-Hicks contractions- which are usually perceived as painless tightening can be felt. Lower back pain is very common and there may be more pelvic pressure and with this more frequent urination. 

Swollen legs and feet are very common as are increased fatigue, interrupted sleep and a reduced ability to eat a full meal at one sitting.

4th Trimester (Post birth onwards)

Your baby’s fourth trimester starts from the moment she’s born and lasts until she is three months old. The term is used to describe a period of great change and development in your newborn, as she adjusts to her new world outside your womb. There are many adaptations, recovery and rest that you and your baby need through this trimester whether you have a natural or c-section birth.

All of these considerations need to be in mind when looking to find a great workplace whilst pregnant — whether you’re looking to ask for more support from your current workplace, find a new job or enter employment. 

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Next, let’s look at the factors that would define the opposite; somewhere you shouldn’t look to work whilst pregnant.

How to Spot The Worst Workplaces to Work Whilst Pregnant

1. Non-Negotiable Heavy Lifting

Do you have to lift, push, bend, shove, and load materials all day? If you do, many experts believe you should ask for a job reassignment or quit by the 20th week of pregnancy.

2. Toxic Environments

The list of jobs that involve dangerous substances is miles long. Consider the artist who works with paint and solvents all day, the dry cleaner who breathes in cleaning fumes, the agricultural or horticultural worker who works with pesticides, the photographer who uses toxic chemicals to develop pictures, the tollbooth attendant who breathes in car and truck exhaust, or the printer who works with lead substances.

3. Proximity to People with Communicable Illnesses

Working with or exposure to certain bacteria, viruses, or other infectious agents could increase your chances of having a miscarriage, a baby with a birth defect, or other reproductive problems.  Some infections can pass to an unborn baby during pregnancy and cause a miscarriage or birth defect. Infections like seasonal influenza (the flu) and pneumonia can cause more serious illness in pregnant women.

4. Extended Hours of Standing

Cooks, nurses, salesclerks, waiters, police officers, and others, have jobs that keep them on their feet all day. This can be difficult for a pregnant woman, but it might be downright dangerous for her unborn baby. Studies have found that long hours of standing during the last half of pregnancy disrupt the flow of blood.[3]

Key Factors Creating a Great Workplace whilst Pregnant

1. Flexibility

You might feel tired as your body works overtime to support your pregnancy — and resting during the workday can be tough. Having an employer or job that provide care and is understanding to your needs is hugely beneficial.

A compassionate and empathetic employer will understand morning sickness; they will facilitate changes in working hours to accommodate your energy and assist with the smells from the work kitchen. 

They will also enable you to remain flexible to snack as and when you want to – crackers and other bland foods can be lifesavers when you feel nauseated. Nad eating small frequent meals are similarly saving you as your meal quantity decreases.

2. Compassion

More employers are learning that the idea that pregnant women are willing and necessary contributors to the economy and are capable of adding long-term value to their organizations. 

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Employers that follow good practice in maternity can improve the experience of pregnant employees and new mothers and encourage them to return to work following maternity leave.

A good relationship between a pregnant employee and her line manager is essential to the successful reintegration of the employee following maternity leave.

3. Stress Reduced

Stress on the job can sap the energy you need to care for yourself and your baby.

To minimize workplace stress, take control. Make daily to-do lists and prioritise your tasks. Consider what you can delegate to someone else — or eliminate. 

Talk it out. Share frustrations with a supportive co-worker, friend or loved one. 

Practice relaxation techniques, such as breathing slowly or imagining yourself in a calm place. Try a prenatal yoga class, as long as your health care provider says it’s OK.

4. Adaptable

As your pregnancy progresses, everyday activities such as sitting and standing can become uncomfortable. Remember those short, frequent breaks to combat fatigue? Moving around every few hours also can ease muscle tension and help prevent fluid buildup in your legs and feet. 

Using an adjustable chair with good lower back support can make long hours of sitting much easier — especially as your weight and posture change. If your chair isn’t adjustable, use a small pillow or cushion to provide extra support for your back.

Elevate your legs to decrease swelling. If you must stand for long periods of time, put one of your feet up on a footrest, low stool or box. Switch feet every so often and take frequent breaks.

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Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support. Consider wearing support or compression hose, too.

5. Financial Support

Financial strain is one of the leading causes of peri & post natal depression. Employers can support employees by offering them benefits beyond the statutory minimum, for example training mechanisms to help them cope with balancing work and family commitments. 

The employer should conduct a performance review with the employee prior to her maternity leave to boost her confidence and encourage her to consider how parenthood and work will fit together.

Key Take-Aways

If you’re working while you’re pregnant, you need to know your rights to antenatal care, maternity leave and benefits. 

If you have any worries about your health while at work, talk to your doctor, midwife or occupational health nurse. You can also talk to your employer, union representative, or someone in the personnel department (HR) where you work. 

Once you tell your employer that you’re pregnant, they should do a risk assessment with you to see if your job poses any risks to you or your baby. If there are any risks, they have to make reasonable adjustments to remove them. This can include changing your working hours. 

If you work with chemicals, lead or X-rays, or in a job with a lot of lifting, it may be illegal for you to continue to work. In this case, your employer must offer you alternative work on the same terms and conditions as your original job. If there’s no safe alternative, your employer should suspend you on full pay (give you paid leave) for as long as necessary to avoid the risk.

Look for employment opportunities that don’t require too much physical exertion and that won’t cause you much emotional stress. Also, look for jobs that come with the chance to work flexible hours, offer good medical benefits, allow you to take time off as needed, and don’t require a long commute. 

Your current employer may need to offer you different types of work or a change to your working hours. If your employer can’t get rid of the risks (for example by finding other suitable work without any reduction in pay for you), they should offer you suspension on full pay.

Featured photo credit: Alicia Petresc via unsplash.com

Reference

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