Labor is the act of the baby moving from the womb to the outside world through contractions and changes in the cervix. Labor is usually defined as contractions of the uterus that are strong enough to make the cervix change, make it shorter (effacement) and softer and open it up (dilatation). The body has precisely planned out the entire 40 weeks of gestation and when the body says the time has come for the baby to leave the womb, the process of active labor begins. Labor can be spontaneous or it can be induced. Early labor signs and symptoms include regular, strong contractions lasting over 1 minute and which do not stop when moving.

We've all seen the depictions of women going into labor on TV and in movies, which usually occur in a very dramatic fashion: think water breaking all over the place and at the most inopportune time. The truth is that the signs and symptoms of labor, and in particular, early labor, can be very slight bodily changes and feelings that may or may not be noticeable. It can be confusing to tell the difference between late pregnancy pains and early labor signs. Signs of a true impending labor include: movement makes the pains stronger or more frequent, pains increase in strength and frequency over time, pains are accompanied by feelings of nausea or intestinal discomfort, pain spreads to the lower back, upper abdominals and upper thighs, the mucus plug passes or you notice bloody spots, your water breaks.

In Labor Gravity Is Your Friend

Lying flat on the back, also known as the lithotomy position, turns out to be one of the hardest positions there is to give birth in (short of standing on your head!) ... read more »

Labor, Delivery, and Birth Guide

Your guide to labor and delivery, anesthesia, delivery options, and more. ... read more »

Labor Induction: What You Need to Know

If the time has come to give birth and the natural labor process has not begun, doctors can choose to induce labor in a variety of ways. ... read more »

Choosing the Best Labor Coach

All 40 weeks of pregnancy boils down to one moment ' labor. A laborcoach is someone who's there to keep mom on track, get dad's head out of the clouds and even help keep family members informed and appeasedduring the birthing process. ... read more »

I Lost My Mucus Plug: Will Labor Start Now?

Losing your mucus plug and seeing bloody show could mean labor is on the way, but how long will it take until labor starts? ... read more »

Premature Labor - Preterm Labor

Premature labor or preterm labor is when there are contractions and cervical changes before 37 weeks gestation. ... read more »

Cerebral Palsy Risk in Early or Late Delivery

Preterm birth is a known risk factor for cerebral palsy, but researchers have now added weeks 37 and 42+ to that list. According to a study published by the Journal of American Medical Association, the lowest risk occurs when children are born at 40 weeks. ... read more »

Dr. Amos' Pregnancy Book

Read Dr. Amos' eBook about pregnancy, fertility, trying to get pregnant, and the postpartum period. Everything you need to know! ... read more »

How to Choose Your Midwife

Everyone I know who used a midwife during her pregnancy and during her delivery absolutely loved it. They said they felt a special connection with their midwife towards the big day, which made the delivery process more personal and easy. In a hospital setting, it’s easy to feel like just another patient, which is concerning when you’re trying to get the best care for your specific needs. When a midwife is handling the delivery, she can do it right in the home and she will know every detail of your personal preferences. ... read more »

When Is It Too Late For Pain Medication?

For a pregnant woman who has decided on using pain medication for labor and delivery hearing the words, “It is too late to relieve pain” can be frightening. Why, and more importantly when, is it too late for pain medication during labor and delivery? ... read more »

Mucus Plug And Bloody Show In Pregnancy

The cervical mucus plug is often expelled before labor so that the cervix can open to allow the baby to pass through to prepare for delivery. ... read more »

Labor Contractions Timer Tool

The babyMed Labor Contractions Timer Tool allows you to follow your contractions as labor begins and as it progresses toward delivery. When timing labor contractions, start counting from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next. Follow your contractions and calculate everything about them: How long they last, how far apart they are and how frequent they become. This counting tool automatically calculates the number of contractions, length, interval, and other important information. ... read more »

How Do You Know You Are In Labor - Early Labor Symptoms and Signs

As the pregnancy comes to an end, there are early labor symptoms and signs that mom will need to look for in order to recognize the beginning of labor. ... read more »

Labor Contractions

Labor contractions are the body's way of saying, 'Let's get ready tohave a baby!' and are caused by hormones in the body. Labor contractions come in three forms: false, practice and activelabor. ... read more »

How is False Labor Different?

False labor can feel much like active labor. Braxton Hicks contractions can begin in the second trimester. These contractions are used to prepare the uterus for actual birth when the time comes. ... read more »

Answering Questions about the Mucus Plug

The mucus plug forms soon after the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. The plug blocks the opening of the cervix until the gestational period is over. ... read more »

Your Dad in the Delivery Room - What to Consider

However, some dads are excited by the idea of experiencing the birthing experience with their daughters. Before saying yes or no, think about all aspects of the birthing process and how you truly feel about dad being there. ... read more »

Can My Labor be Photographed or Filmed?

Filming or photographing the birth of your child is an extremely personal choice, but not all hospitals, birthing centers or obstetricians allow YOU to make that choice. ... read more »

Progesterone No Help in Preventing Preterm Twin Births

This Lancet study shows that progesterone does not prevent preterm births in twins. ... read more »

Impact of Breastfeeding on Mother and Newborn

There was no significant difference in full-term or non-full-term births rates and mean newborn birth weight between for those who continued and discontinued breastfeeding during pregnancy.  ... read more »

Tocolytic Therapy for Preterm Delivery

This is a great review from the British Medical Journal of tocolytic therapy, treatment to stop preterm labor. It reviews  what works and what does not. There are two tocolytics that seem to have the highest success rate: prostaglandin inhibitors (eg indomethacin, ketorolac)  performed best closely followed by calcium channel blockers (nifedipine, nitrates). ... read more »

Hospital Is Trying To Reduce Cesarean Deliveries

As the number of cesarean sections has risen sharply, with no clear evidence that they improve the health of mothers or babies, experts say that childbirth has become overly medicalized and overly expensive. Now some hospitals are making an effort to reduce those trends. ... read more »

Oxytocin and Slow Labor Process

For women making slow progress in spontaneous labor, treatment with oxytocin as compared with no treatment or delayed oxytocin treatment did not result in any discernable difference in the number of cesarean sections performed. ... read more »

Elective Induction of Labor

Our findings indicate that elective induction of labor at term gestation can reduce perinatal mortality in developed countries without increasing the risk of operative delivery. ... read more »

Sexually Transmitted Diseases During Pregnancy

An infection during pregnancy is different from when you are not pregnant - it can affect the pregnant woman as well as the developing fetus inside the uterus. ... read more »

What is a Cesarean Section?

A cesarean section is an operative delivery done by cutting through the mother's abdomen and uterus and delivering the baby through the incision. ... read more »

Labor Induction Can Improve Birth Outcomes

A policy of labour induction compared with expectant management is associated with fewer perinatal deaths and fewer caesarean sections. ... read more »

Oxytocin Doses for Delayed Labor

Higher dose of oxytocin starting and increment dose (4 mU per minute or more) was associated with a reduction in the length of labour and in caesarean section, and an increase in spontaneous vaginal birth.  ... read more »

Pain Management For Women in Labor

Most methods of non-pharmacological pain management are non-invasive and appear to be safe for mother and baby, however, their efficacy is unclear, due to limited high-quality evidence. Only one or two trials provided outcome data for analysis and the overall methodological quality of the trials was low. ... read more »

Labor-Tracking Tool May Reduce Risk of C-Section

According to researchers, the guidelines for the progression of labor before suggesting a C-section delivery are based on outdated clinical studies. ... read more »

What to Pack for Labor & Delivery

What to bring and pack when you get admitted to the hospital in labor. ... read more »

Is This True Labor Or Braxton Hicks Contractions?

Before "true" labor begins, you may have "false" labor pains, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions. How do you know the difference? Read on! ... read more »

HIV Testing In Pregnancy Accepted

A recent study has proven beneficial for children born with HIV. During the study, women were counseled on the importance of HIV testing before the birth of their child in order to establish their HIV status and begin immediate treatment for the child post birth. ... read more »

Travel Safety During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it's generally safe for pregnant women to travel safely, but some precautions must be taken as to the places of travel and circumstances. ... read more »

Is It Safe To Fly During Pregnancy?

Flying can be safe in pregnancy as long as you take certain precautions. Air travel can be very tiring, and there are several suggestions to make it less stressful. ... read more »

Warm Water and Fetal Safety

Taking warm baths can help relieve tension and pain throughout pregnancy, but too warm could lead to birth defects and lack of oxygen to the baby. ... read more »

How to Survive the 3rd Trimester of Pregnancy in 12 Steps

The 3rd trimester, the last 12 weeks of the pregnancy, is important because significant issues can arise during this time. ... read more »

Unproductive Labor

When labor starts, mom begins the mental preparation needed to move from pregnancy to motherhood. ... read more »

Study: Epidurals Slow Second Stage of Labor, Delay Delivery

The findings of a recent study on the use of epidurals during labor suggest the need to review current guidelines defining normal progression and potentially dangerous prolonged (abnormal) labor. ... read more »

Back Pain In Pregnancy

Dealing with back pain during pregnancy is all about rest, relaxation and the right support ... but back pain could also indicate a more serious problem. ... read more »

Does Sex During Pregnancy Cause Labor?

Sex is often one of the first tactics pregnant moms will use to bring about the start of birth. ... read more »

Does Sex Bring On Labor?

It's unlikely that sex is is going to cause you to go into labor. But many doctors tell their pregnant patients to go ahead anyway when they are past their due date. It's worth trying. ... read more »

IV Oxytocin Often Not Needed During Normal Labor

Oxytocin is commonly given via IV during birth is progress is slow, but researchers reveal this extra boost of labor inducing hormone may not be needed in many cases ' when given during normal labor. ... read more »

Anesthesia During Labor and Delivery

There are 4 types of anesthesia currently used in the laboring process. These include drugs, local anesthesia, spinal anesthesia, and epidural anesthesia. ... read more »

Epidural And Spinal Anesthesia and Pregnancy

An epidural anesthesia is the most popular choice among women in labor and delivery. It is delivered through a needle and catheter which usually stays in place until the baby is born. ... read more »

Giving Birth

It's an amazing experience to bring a baby into the world, so it's normal for pregnant women to look forward to giving birth.  ... read more »

How Pregnant Am I When…?

There are milestones throughout a pregnancy. Some are physically noticeable and others happen and pregnant women have no idea they occurred. How pregnant am I? ... read more »

Does Alcohol-Free Mouth Wash Reduce Risk of Preterm Birth?

Researchers presented a study at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine yearly meet-up, The Pregnancy Meeting, regarding the possible benefits of using alcohol-free mouthwash to reduce preterm labor. ... read more »

How Weather Affects Pregnancy

Barometric pressure is the weight of the air and gases in the atmosphere pressing down on us. It’s easy to assume that air particles are weightless, but they’re not, and some days more air is above us than others. ... read more »

Why Do I Have Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?

One of the most concerning for many pregnant women is pelvic pain. Pelvic pain can be attributed to more than just the weight of the uterus and fetus and it is not always associated with labor. ... read more »

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