What will happen when I go into labour? Potentially daft question alert!

(26 Posts)
Pinkflipflop Sun 02-Dec-12 11:57:11

This is my first baby so I'm a little clueless really!

I would love it if someone could tell me what will happen as on tv it looks very dramatic, waters break everywhere and next minute the woman is strapped to a bed screaming shock

So what is likely to happen on the day I have my baby? Will I go from minding my business, shopping, cleaning etc to intense contractions?

Sorry if this makes me sound really daft but there's nobody I can really ask in RL without seeming clueless!

CailinDana Sun 02-Dec-12 12:46:44

It totally varies from woman to woman but IME it's very very rare for labour to just kick in and ramp up straight away with a first baby. Most women have niggles for a few weeks - some period-like pain and some uncomfortable braxton hicks - before anything proper starts. You'll often lose your mucus plug anywhere up to a couple of weeks before labour. It's like a big lump of stringy snot (lovely!) and is a strong sign your body is gearing up to have the baby.

The baby will often "engage" in the weeks before labour which means the head moves into your pelvis. It's dreadfully uncomfortable. In the days coming up to labour you might have a dodgy tummy and vomit or have diarrhoea and on the actual day you might feel quite "antsy" and upset. Once the whole thing starts it might take a bloody long time to actually get into "established" labour -so you could have pretty frequent strong contractions without your cervix dilating at all. Waters can break at any time - mine didn't break until about 5 hours into labour.

For me, DS (now 2) engaged at about 37 weeks, I lost my mucus plug between 37 and 38 weeks, bit by bit, hung about feeling miserable and tired and uncomfortable till 40 weeks, then started getting really uncomfortable braxton hicks from 40+1 to 40+5, making sleep difficult. On the day before labour I went into town with DH and felt like the baby was never going to come. Had a lovely dinner that night, then threw it all up which was my first inkling that things might be starting. Next day I started having weak irregular contractions at about 11 am but I didn't say anything to DH until about 5 when they started getting more frequent. Went to the hospital to be checked around 7 only to be told my cervix was completely closed. Went home again, at which point the contractions really ramped up and was back in the hospital at 9, 5cms dilated. DS was born at 3:30am.

Hi there, first of all don't panic!

From experience, labour is nothing like it is portrayed on tv. It is overly dramamtic.

The first time is generally slow so most likely, there'll be lots of hanging about.
Every woman's labour is different but it's highly unlikely your waters will break everywhere and you'll give birth in the supermarket.
I recommend getting yourself a book about pregnancy to prepare yourself for process.

I can tell you how it was from my experience if you're interested.
With DS1, I had no symptoms/signs of labour until I was 40 + 2 (other than Braxton-Hicks, practice contractions). I just had a shower at 10 pm and my waters broke, they didn't gush, just sort of trickled so I thought I had wet myself blush. DH was panicking so we rang the hospital and were then advised to go there as it was quite a distance. Upon arrival, they gave me a check up and I was 4cm dilated and the contractions were very intense. After 6 hours, they couldn't find the baby's heartbeat so I was taken to the theatre to have an crash section. This all happened very quickly. I don't want to scare you but you never know what is going to happen.

With DS2 at 37 + 4, 4 days before labour, I was vomiting and had an upset stomach and Braxton-Hicks so went to hospital and stayed for 3 days for monitoring and had an IV drip. Everything was fine, I went home.
The next day, I was due to work but had stronger contractions so I decided to go to the shop first (!) and then went to hospital because my contractions were close together. I was 4-5cm dilated and prepped for a c-section. I got to hospital about 17.30 and DS was born at 19.40. Everything waas calmer because I knew what to expect.

Sorry for the essay but I hope that gives you more information.
Also, don't be afraid to stand your ground with regards to pain relief.

Congratulations by the way!

squidkid Sun 02-Dec-12 16:50:43

It's very variable but with first labours you usually have lots of time while it builds up gradually.

My labour DID begin with waters breaking but it happened on the loo in the night. Then I had mild contractions which turned into very strong contractions which turned into pushing out a baby - that bit took 30 hours. Exhausting and dramatic by the end, but PLENTY of time to get used to what was going on. (Would have preferred a lot less time, to be honest!) More usually the waters don't break until you're in full blown labour.

I also had period-like pains and some contractions which didn't turn into anything for the 2 weeks running up to my waters breaking. And I lost my mucus plug 3 days before. It's hard not to get excited when these things happen thinking a baby will arrive any minute, but few people are that lucky with a first labour!

How far along are you now? It's really hard to do, but best to try and relax and keep yourself distracted. Sounds like it would be useful you going to an antenatal class too, where they talk through how labour works. NHS should do a free one for you, there are also private ones (NCT most commonly) if you wanted more depth and detail. Good luck!

mosschops30 Sun 02-Dec-12 16:54:26

On my first (dd) i woke up with twinges at about 7am, and they were fairly regular. I had a show later on that morning. Labour started that evening and dd was born the following morning.

The other two were induced so not really representative.

FWIW my waters have never broken narurally with any of them

Mine was straight forward, no strap or stirrups.

Water broke in the middle of the night, panicked, rang mum, sister and midwife. Went back to bed, woke up about 4 hours later with contractions. Sat round bouncing on the ball with a TENS machine. Went to birthing centre about 11am (40 minute car journey!). 2cm upon arrival. Got in pool, got out, got back in, got out, baby born about 4pm.

Sorry, forgot to add, had morphine, baby born about 20 minutes later.

RooneyMara Sun 02-Dec-12 17:10:05

You're right OP it is really hard to visualise, I'm about to have my third and still finding it hard to believe I'll actually go into proper (not imagined blush) labour at some point.

With my first, which was nearly 10 years ago now, I was just lying on the floor eating mussels and reading the paper I think, around 8.30pm. And then I needed the loo, and while I was on the loo I stopped weeing and realised that there was still a lot of water coming out - which obviously was the first indication that things were happening!
I stuffed a big towel between my legs and rang my Dad who came to take me to the hospital, which was a scary ride as he was so anxious.
I think it was about half an hour after the waters thing, that we got there and I had a contraction in the reception bit and then had to walk/run the length of the hospital as we'd gone in the wrong entrance.

Then I was put in a room on my own, and basically kept getting contractions and after trying gas and air, and then going for an epidural (as I didn't realise it wasn't just 'what you do'!) I had him at 4.50am.

I think I spent the next night in the ward as I couldn't move my legs, (epidural) and then went home the next day.

Second one was born at home, contractions began at 6.54am, I thought it was just wind, then they kept coming every few minutes and so I rang the MW who was hesitant to come out, said ring in an hour - but I rang about 20 minutes later as I was certain it was happening and they were 3 minutes apart.
He was born at 10.32. All rather fast smile

HTH a bit. Everyone is different. I felt lucky that mine were fairly straightforward and fairly quick as I have no stamina!

RooneyMara Sun 02-Dec-12 17:11:12

Oh yes with ds2, my waters didn't go till I was pushing, shortly before he came out...no pain relief at all that time and it did hurt, I have to admit!

squidkid Sun 02-Dec-12 17:14:47

What I wrote sounds whingy, I didn't mean it to be! I feel very fortunate because my birth was entirely straightforward (I had her at home). I used TENS and later gas and air for pain relief. It did hurt a lot! But I didn't scream and I wasn't strapped down... I was mostly sitting backwards on a chair or on all fours breathing through it. Other than length, cannot complain!

inadreamworld Sun 02-Dec-12 17:39:54

Waters started leaking at 40 +8. A few mild contractions which stopped. had to go in next day to be induced. Pessary to get labour started which worked when they said it would - ie after 6 hours. Then hormone drip to make contractions stronger. 12 hours (and an epidural) later DD was born naturally. Am expecting number two in about 6 weeks so am hoping to go into labour naturally this time. But you never know what will happen. Good luck smile

Pascha Sun 02-Dec-12 18:48:19

I had a first contraction just before 10pm, no previous symptoms, no waters breaking, I was 7cm dilated on arrival at hospital at 1.15am and had DS at 5am. Not so slow for me.

baublesandbaileys Sun 02-Dec-12 21:52:14

I had a telly one with no1, big waters gush out of the blue (well I mean I knew I was due to have a baby, but no other labour signs first), followed by periodey cramping, a few hours later contractions started

.. just cause everyone tells you that it's NEVER like telly, but sometimes it is!
- except the rest of it was slower than telly labours, but the start was typical telly waters breaking

mayhew Sun 02-Dec-12 22:56:01

I love telly labours. Ruptured membranes in a public place, immediate massive contractions. Screaming and sweating, baby 10 mins later.

In real life, 10% of labours start with ruptured membranes.

Most labours build up gradually. And often stop and start. Dilation does not usually happen until you are contracting firmly 3 times in 10mins. With a first baby, if you can talk through it, you are usually less than 3cm dilated.

However, some women dilate easily and quickly with a first baby, there is often a family history. Usually this is strong labour from the beginning, but sometimes quite stealthy and surprising.

ISeeThreadPeople Sun 02-Dec-12 23:00:21

I was prepared for the fact that it's nothing like on tv...

I was 38 weeks pregnant, eating dinner and my waters popped spectacularly. Huge contractions immediately, 2.5 minutes long with a 30 second gap between them. 31hrs later, after a lot of drama, blue light ambulances and intervention, I was rushed to theatre for an emcs.

But that's v rare.

4.4yrs later, I was snoozing in bed and my waters popped spectacularly and... well, you know the story.

There's really no telling.

baublesandbaileys Mon 03-Dec-12 11:01:56

my contractions didn't build up either, there were none just a bit "periodey" after waters broke for an hour or two then all of a sudden they went straight to the telly stcreaming type!

RooneyMara Mon 03-Dec-12 11:30:07

Mayhew, may I ask what your experience is with third labours? I'm a bit worried mine will be really quick, after 3.5 hours last time...but then I keep reading that they can be a bit of a wild card smile

(sorry for hijack!)

mayhew Mon 03-Dec-12 17:27:24

Third babies are much like second ones. Might be a bit quicker or slower…

Its a human body process, prone to variation and affected by your feelings and circumstances. Its a bit like saying that the second time you have sex, its usually better than the first. The third time…..

hazelnutlatte Mon 03-Dec-12 17:36:21

I had no Braxton hicks, didn't lose mucus plug, head wasn't engaged, no signs of pre labour at all until waters broke in spectacular fashion.
Then bugger all happened for 2 days until I went into hospital to be induced. Then bugger all happened for another 24 hours until I finally had a c section!

PenguinSalute Mon 03-Dec-12 18:06:17

Just to offer the other side, so to speak- I had DS1 10 months ago, and entirely based my expectations on OBEM- get sent home a couple of times, chat in between contractions etc- and actually it was the total opposite. From the first pain that woke me at 1am, it was pains every 2-3 mins, no gentle easing in! Got to the hospital at 4cm and was 10cm and pushing 20 mins later! I had frozen some of those lucozade sport drinks to take to hospital, and they were still frozen when I was snuggling DS- despite having been on top of the heater...

I know that this seems to be unusual for first labours, but I just wanted to offer it as a possibility, as I hadn't considered it at all, and it took me (and my shocked DP!) a while to get my head round it after.

PenguinSalute Mon 03-Dec-12 18:10:01

Oh also...meant to say my waters didn't break at all, that anyone noticed- the sac had ruptured but DS's beefy shoulders held it all back so he came out on a tidal wave and drenched the midwife! Chances are you'll be embarrassed one way or another during labour grin

NiceOneCenturion Mon 03-Dec-12 20:03:16

Yes, it can vary widely. I also had a first time labour just like you see on the tv despite being repeatedly told that it didn't happen that way. Waters went pop, straight into extremely painful contractions with barely a minute between. The midwives at the hospital told me I had come too early and wasn't in active labour. Had baby in the next two hours. He's lovely grin

Purplecatti Tue 04-Dec-12 15:59:12

I had no early signs if labour, and at almost two weeks overdue and facing induction I was looking for any little sign!
Here is a run down of my labour, it wasn't a run of the mill one, if indeed any are.
6:30am - twinges like period cramps and small amounts of clearish goo (gross)
7:00am - went to supermarket (2 min walk) to get tea bags for my homebirthing midwives
7:05 - returned home after doubling over on the way there
9:00 - husband dispatched to get tea bags
10:00 - husband returns to find me incapable of speech on the sofa and looking longingly at the birth pool
11:00 - husband gets scared at the fact I am totally not on this earth and rings midwife. Waters are everywhere at this point.
12:00 midwife enters and deems me 4cm after difficulty as I only got a 10 second window between contractions
12:03 - huge amount of meconium in waters
12:25 - dragged into ambulance, body had started to push
13:00 - in hospital on bed and sucking blissfully on entenox. that stuff really helps your brain zone out.
13:15 - OBEM camera crew barge in, they have the wrong room. I had no idea, too focused!
13:30 - husband goes to get sandwich, midwife tells him not to go too far
14:00 - change position and consciously push, told baby is a big 'un and stuck.
14:10 - OBEM crew barge in, husband shouts at them (glad I was out of it)
14:30 - still pushing, baby has clip put on head as I can't keep still for the monitor and the heart rate is dipping
14:35 - OBEM crew barge in with disclaimer forms, husband angrily evicts them (again I have NO memory of this)
16:08 - after a lot of effort and gas (no screaming or crying or anything dramatic) baby is born healthy.

the worst part is the end and that is brief thankfully. I said I was having real difficulty at the end and said I couldn't face any more I was exhausted and the midwife told me my baby's head was there and looking at her so I only had another push to go.

Don't listen to people's scare stories is my big advice. I did a back to back labour with nothing but gas and air for a 9lb baby in a difficult position and resulting in a 3rd degree tear. and 'm telling you IT'S NOT THAT BAD WHEN IT HAPPENS IT JUST HAPPENS. People just like to dramatise things.

fatcuntroller Tue 04-Dec-12 21:20:50

Every labour and birth is different unfortunately smile

I had the dramatic waters breaking all over the floor scene with both of mine...no niggles or clues beforehand.

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