There are a few things to begin looking for before you begin to go into labor. You may experience one or more of these and your gynecologist will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about getting ready for labor and the labor process.
Contractions – these are increasingly painful feelings of tightening of the uterus that often become predictable. Begin timing them, and when contractions are steady, at every 5 to 8 minutes, lasting 45 to 60 seconds, call your doctor.
Rupture of Membranes – a large gush and/or a continuous trickle of water from your vagina signals the rupture of membranes. Note the time and the color of the fluid, then call your doctor.
Bloody Show – This is the passage of the mucus plug, which may contain a scant amount of blood. This may begin to occur hours or even days before the onset of labor. If bleeding is constant, gushing or accompanied by intense pain, call your doctor.
Always call your doctor and wait for a return call before going to the hospital. If it is during the evening or the weekend be sure to call the on-call nurse. If the symptoms persist and you haven’t heard from your doctor, go ahead and go to the hospital.
As your due date approaches, it is helpful to go ahead and start packing a bag for the hospital. Here is a list of items that could be useful:
For the mom
- Any necessary health insurance or hospital papers
- Nursing or sports bras and breast pads to absorb leakage
- Nursing pillow
- Nightgown and robe - if you plan to breast feed, make sure the gown opens in the front Slippers and socks
- Outfit for going home - don't expect to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothing
- Sanitary pads
- Hair clip to pull hair from your face while in labor
- Mints, lollipops, hard candies
- Baby book - the nursery may put your baby's footprints in it for you
For the baby
- Car seat and head support - install this properly before the baby is born, if possible
- Outfit for going home
- Newborn diapers and wipes
- Mittens - to protect the baby from his or her long fingernails