There are numerous signs that labor may have begun but knowing when the right time to go to the hospital is can still be complicated to tell.
In the third trimester, as the baby descends deeper into the pelvis approximately two to four weeks before birth, contractions will progress from more noticeable and possibly uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions.
By timing the length of the contractions as well as the time between each contraction, you can see if they are becoming more frequent. If they are five minutes or less apart, and last for a minute or more over an entire hour, it is time to leave for the hospital. If contractions slow down or become less painful by eating, drinking, showering, moving or changing the position of the body, then it may not be necessary to leave home yet.
Having a Bloody Show:
If the cervix has started to open, the mucus plug that has acted as a seal to prevent infection reaching the baby can be released as a jelly-like discharge, either in tact or as several portions. Light brown; pink or red are sometimes within it, which is why many medical professionals refer to it as the “bloody show”. It can be dislodged several weeks before birth but more commonly shifts only a few days or a few hours before.
Rupturing of the Membranes:
Known better as “the waters breaking”, this is when the amniotic sac that surrounds and protects the baby bursts and fluids flow from the vagina, anytime from several days to several hours before the baby is actually born. Some women may be concerned that they have lost control over their bladder when this happens but amniotic fluid will not smell like urine. Contracting the uterine muscles cannot control the flow of this fluid. It can gush suddenly or trickle slowly, and will be a clear color (not yellow) or it may contain traces of pink when it breaks. Sometimes the breaking of the waters and the bloody show occur at the same time.
You must go to the hospital as soon as possible if you are experience any of the following:
- Bleeding: Because this can be a sign of premature separation of the placenta or placenta previa. If the waters or the mucus plug are tinged with green, dark brown or yellow when they detach, because this may indicate the presence of meconium (the baby’s digestive fluid which eventually becomes the first bowel movement), which increases the risk of infection.
- Vomiting for long periods
- No movement from the baby
- Unbearable, unrelenting pain
- An urge to push
Blurred vision or dizziness