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Some feel no symptoms until they are right in the beginning of labor. Others have many symptoms such as cramping for weeks before labor actually begins. During labor four major changes occur:
Before labor actually begins, many women experience some of the following:
Before you go into true labor, you may experience what is known as Braxton Hicks contractions, or false labor. These are labor-like contractions, often felt for many weeks, that help to prepare your cervix for true labor by thinning, softening, and sometimes even opening your cervix slightly. The contractions often occur more frequently as you get closer to your due date and in the afternoon, evening, after you have exercised, or at other times when you are tired. These contractions can range from mild, when you can’t even feel them, to severe, where they can be quite painful.
Some ways to tell if you are feeling Braxton Hicks contractions are to:
If you begin to feel contractions, time them for one full hour and write down how they feel. Don’t hesitate to go to the hospital if you really can’t tell if you are in labor. It is better to be safe than sorry.
If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor’s office or the hospital:
Some time around 33 to 36 weeks might be a good time to pack that overnight bag and leave it near the door, as you really could deliver at any time over the next month. Many women like to have some “comfort” items in the labor room, including:
At Women & Infants, the clothing that you wear on arrival is usually sent home and we will provide you with a “johnnie” (hospital gown) to wear during your stay. The following are some additional items that you may want to bring:
Clothing will be provided for your newborn infant as long as he or she stays in the nursery. It is recommended that you have clothing for yourself and your baby brought to the hospital the day before you are scheduled to return home.