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

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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

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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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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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