Although a baby born after 37 weeks can be considered term, things like lanugo, the soft hair that covered your baby’s body while growing in the womb, may still be partially present. Also, the lungs still need to finish developing but all other internal organs are operating fully.
Since baby has dropped into position, you’ll probably be finding it easier to breathe as your diaphragm has less pressure on it.
Did you know that the amniotic fluid is continually replaced, even in labour, every three hours? Amniotic fluid is partially comprised of urine, sweat and other fluids from the baby. Your baby has been practising breathing the amniotic fluid for many weeks in preparation for the big event!
It’s important to be aware of the difference between false labour (Braxton Hicks) and real contractions. False contractions usually disappear if you get up and move around, but real labour contractions become more frequent and intense.
Usually, the waters break towards the end of the first stage of labour. In about 15% of pregnancies, the waters break before labour. ‘Waters breaking’ is the term used to describe the membranes of the amniotic sac rupturing and it is a clear sign that labour is happening or is about to happen.
Now that you know how to tell if you are really in labour, let’s talk about some of the ways your body prepares for labor. Your baby will descend into your pelvis, sometimes called engagement, usually before labour in first time mums and during labour in subsequent births. In the days before labour begins you may also experience, if you haven’t already, a bloody show (loss of the mucous plug), a nesting instinct, loose stools, loss of weight and an increased appetite.
Are you first time parents? Have you changed a nappy yet? Practise with a doll or with someone else’s baby. Handling a newborn baby is a daunting experience for a first-time parent and you need to do it with confidence.