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.

Labor, Delivery, and Birth Guide

All about the stages of labor, delivery options, anesthesia and more. ... read more »

Risks of Preterm or Premature Labor and Delivery

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

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

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 »

Is This True Labor or Braxton Hicks Contractions?

Are these Braxton Hicks or real contractions? ... read more »

A Labor and Delivery Nurse's Birth Plan

Birth plans are common these days. Here is a birthplan written by a labor and delivery nurse. ... read more »

Is Water Birth a Good Idea?

According to Wikipedia, a water birth refers to childbirth, usually human, that occurs in water. ... read more »

7 Ways to Get Your Labor Started

The first thing you should do if you are overdue is to wait. Have patience and let your baby decide what his or her birthday will be. ... read more »

Safe Sex Before, During, and After Pregnancy

There are five distinct three-month periods trimesters associated with pregnancy and each one affects your sex life in distinctly different ways ... read more »

Can I Eat Solid Food During Labor?

Solid food is that source of energy you could really use about five hours into labor, but the one thing you will be denied if you think of solid food as a full meal. ... read more »

How to Find a Good Hospital and Maternity Unit

Finding a good hospital unit for maternity is among the top priorities for pregnant women to ensure the optimal care when you are having a baby. ... read more »

Why Would You Need 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 »

Unproductive Labor

Unproductive labor occurs when mom successfully makes it through the first stage of labor only to have the cervix become unresponsive to contractions and hormonal changes. If the cervix does not dilate and efface, the baby cannot pass through the cervix and into the birthing canal. ... read more »

Vacuum Assisted Birth and Forceps

When energy levels are low or the baby’s head is a bit too large to push through the vaginal opening, vacuum-assisted birth or forceps may be used to help in the birthing process. ... read more »

Pushing Tips

You can take classes, watch movies and ask questions about pushing, but until you are in active labor, you won't know exactly how strong the pressure and the need to push really is. Learning some tips for effective pushing can help lt lessen the time spent in labor. ... read more »

What to Pack for Labor & Delivery

Here's what to pack for the hospital in your labor bag! ... read more »

Breathing Exercises

Most people associate breathing exercises with helping to ease pain from contractions, but it also provides increased oxygen levels to the baby who is in state of stress as well. ... read more »

Abnormal Labor

Abnormal labor is a broadly-defined condition that can indicate a particular part of the labor process is not occurring under normal circumstances. ... read more »

Why You Should Create a Birth Plan … But Be Flexible About It

A birth plan can help guide the birthing process with basic instructions, wishes, and expectations outlined for labor coaches, nurses, doctors, and your partner. Here's how to create your own! ... read more »

Epidural and Spinal Anesthesia During Labor

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

Stages of Labor

There are three stages of labor starting from the time of the beginning of contractions and cervical dilatation up to the delivery of the placenta. ... read more »

Top Childbirth Fears: Questions and Answers

There are so many worries and concerns when it comes being pregnant, with perhaps the largest surrounding what might potentially happen during labor and delivery. Knowledge is power so we compiled top worries about labor and delivery along with information on how to conquer them! ... read more »

Third Stage of Labor

Giving birth to a new baby is about more than just active labor, contractions and pushing. The placenta needs to pass out of the uterus and vagina after delivery. ... read more »

Second Stage of Active Labor

The second stage of active labor is when you finally get to react to those strong contractions. As the second stage of active labor begins you will feel the need to push. ... 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 »

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 »

Premature Labor Symptoms and Signs - When To Call The Doctor

Premature labor and delivery is the #1 reason for newborn death. You should call the doctor or go to the hospital if you have any of these symptoms or signs. ... read more »

Can Spicy Food Induce Labor?

It is a myth that eating spicy food during pregnancy to induce labor actually brings on labor. There is no known food that brings on labor. ... read more »

Premature Rupture of Fetal Membranes - PROM

Premature rupture of fetal membranes (PROM) is when the fetal membranes break prior to labor. ... read more »

Prelabor Preparation

Weeks before real labor begins, the pregnant woman's body starts preparing for birth.  Most of these changes will go unno ... read more »

Back Labor and Back Pain In Pregnancy

Back labor is a type of labor in which the mother feels most if not all of her contraction pain in her lower back. ... read more »

Induction of labor

In most women, labor induction is not necessary because labor begins spontaneously without anyone having to do something about it. ... read more »

Cervical Insufficiency (Incompetence)

What is cervical insufficiency or incompetence? ... read more »

Breathing During Pregnancy

When a mother to be talks about breathing during pregnancy, most often it will involve preparation for birth. ... read more »

Labor During Certain Weather

A full moon and bad weather do not increase your chances going into labor. ... read more »

Avoiding Spicy Foods

Can eating spicy foods in pregnancy induce labor? ... read more »

Magnesium Sulfate May Reduce Cerebral Palsy

Magnesium sulfate is an intravenous medication often given to women in order to prevent premature births. A recent study shows that it also may possibly reduce the chances of babies later being diagnosed with moderate to severe cerebral palsy. ... read more »

Epidural versus non-epidural or no analgesia in labour

Epidural analgesia appears to be effective in reducing pain during labour. However, women who use this form of pain relief are at increased risk of having an instrumental delivery. ... 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 »

Dr. Amos' Fertility and Pregnancy e-Book

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

What is it Like to be Pregnant with Twins?

For many women, having twins is either a prayer answered or the scariest thing on earth. As is the case with all pregnancies, being pregnant with twins can be easy or hard. It is often the unanswered questions that are hardest for women pregnant with twins. ... read more »

Facts About Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time in life when women feel closer to their spouse and body more than ever before. Here are a few facts about pregnancy for expecting moms. ... 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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