The last trimester of pregnancy has arrived, and this can raise new questions about this process. Let’s go over some of the most frequently asked questions:
How will I know if I’m in labor?
It is very common to be afraid of not knowing what the signs of the onset of labor are. As in any other natural process, your body usually sends signals that indicate that a change is coming.
When labor is approaching, you will most commonly notice that uterine contractions have settled into a rhythmic pattern. Uterine contractions are what will help the cervix to dilate and allow the baby to pass through the birth canal and vagina.
Initially, they may be noticed as discomfort that comes and goes at the level of the lower back, which may be accompanied by difficulties in breathing deeply. Sometimes you notice that your belly gets hard for a few seconds and then relaxes completely and starts again. These are contractions. In the days leading up to labor, you may notice that from time to time, these contractions kick in and then fade away. Until there will come a time when the contractions continue, they don’t stop, and they usually increase in intensity and length of time. When contractions are rhythmic, with a frequency of 2-3 contractions every 10 minutes in a minimum of 2 hours, it is considered that it is likely that labor has begun.
Occasionally, waters may break (the amniotic sack breaks and leaks fluid) before contractions begin. In this case, uterine labor contractions usually appear before 24 hours. Even so, many healthcare teams recommend coming in after a few hours to assess the situation. But if the waters are green, yellow, or bloody, it is recommended that you go urgently to the hospital.
Until when can I work?
This depends on each individual situation. Each job is different, with other demands both physically and emotionally. And every pregnancy can be experienced differently.
In most cases, if there is no serious pregnancy situation, you can work until the end. Another thing is if fatigue or being in the same position for a long time or any other situation makes it advisable to stop sometime before. You can discuss your individual case with the care team who follows your pregnancy or with your family doctor.
What do I need to bring with me to the hospital?
There are huge lists of all the things you need to bring to the hospital on the day of delivery.
Hospitals usually can give you a list of things they recommend you bring with you on the day of delivery. Your documentation and pregnancy diagnostic tests are usually requested.
- For you, a nightshirt or pajamas that opens wide in the front, whether you plan to breastfeed or not because if you feel like doing skin-to-skin, it will be good to have easy access to your breasts. Paper, disposable, or cotton underwear; they can also be some that you already have, but should be comfortable to hold maternity pads in place, that you will have to wear for a few days or weeks. If they are a little high, it may help in case a cesarean section is necessary, as the upper elastic will not press against the wound.
- Most hospitals provide maternity or postpartum pads, but you may be asked to bring in your own. These pads are made of cellulose or cotton. It is important that they do not contain plastic and often do not even have adhesive tape on the underwear part so that the vulvar area is as permeable as possible. These pads are usually quite large and not very comfortable. They are usually used a lot during the first few days. Keep a few at home for when you get home from the hospital.
- Slippers and gowns to wear around the room.
- A toiletry bag with everything you need for the bathroom, except perfumes, colognes, or scented deodorants. Babies are usually very bothered by scents.
- For your baby, you can bring a change of clothes for the days that you will be in the hospital, usually between one and three days, and a blanket or muslin to cover him or her when you are skin-to-skin with him or her.
- Diapers and wipes to clean the baby. This is something that some hospitals do also provide. Some wipes contain not recommended components, such as alcohol or soap, so shop well. You can also use cotton wipes that can be washed. Look for the option you are most comfortable with.
- Some hospitals recommend that babies wear a newborn hat. This has very little evidence and tends to be uncomfortable.
How do I prepare for the postpartum period?
The postpartum period is one of the least known stages, and it is highly recommended that you get informed during pregnancy. In addition to all the care that the baby will require, it is also necessary to consider all the physical and emotional changes that you will experience during this stage, especially during the first weeks. Attending postpartum or breastfeeding groups during pregnancy and seeking information about it can give you more peace of mind when facing the so-called fourth trimester.
Who can be with me during childbirth?
It is known that being with someone you trust during labor and delivery can be a great help. Someone who knows what you want and what your needs are. Usually, this person can be your partner, a close family member, or a trusted friend. You can share your birth plan with this person so that he or she knows your birth and postpartum wishes and can accompany you through the process.
What is a birth plan?
The birth plan is a document that outlines your wishes for the birth of your baby. It is a good exercise to prepare for childbirth and to assess things such as the method you prefer for coping with pain, the type of food you want to offer your baby, if you want to move around during labor, or if you want to be accompanied by your partner or a family member throughout the process.
It is a document that you can change at any time, and in some countries, it is legally binding; that is, unless you change your mind, the professionals who are going to attend your delivery have to follow it.
You can talk to the team who follows your pregnancy to discuss the points that are important to you, as well as the possibilities they offer you. There is the option of using a template provided by the facility where you are having your baby, or you can write it yourself.
My baby moves a lot; is this normal?
It is very common for babies to move around a lot. It is a good sign that your baby is doing well. Sometimes it can even be annoying, but it is still a good sign.
When should I go to the emergency room?
There are some warning signs that you should be aware of in order to be able to evaluate with the team that monitors your pregnancy:
- If you have severe abdominal pain.
- If you feel you may have a urine infection.
- If you feel that the baby is not moving as usual.
- If your waters break, especially if you are less than 37 weeks. If you are over 37 weeks, contact the team that follows your pregnancy, to find out what their recommendations are.
- If you are having rhythmic uterine contractions and are less than 37 weeks pregnant. If you are over, contact your pregnancy monitoring team for their recommendations.
- If you have period-like vaginal bleeding.
- If you have a fever.
- If you have a headache that won’t go away, see flashes, have blurred vision, or feel a squeezing pain in your stomach area.
- If your hands, face, legs, or feet swell suddenly.
In LactApp, you can find a lot more information about this stage of pregnancy and also postpartum. Make sure you get informed, so you will be able to face this time with more security.