Labor, otherwise known as childbirth or parturition, is the three-part period of gestation involving the birth of one or multiple infants. You can choose to undergo labor in one of several ways, including a natural birth at home, water birthing or childbirth in a hospitalized environment. No matter what method you select, the labor will begin randomly, usually as you are going about daily life. Your body will give warning signs that you are entering labor. These signs, which can include indigestion, allow you to prepare for childbirth.
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Stages of Labor
The first stage involves two separate phases -- early labor, when the cervix begins to dilate, followed by active labor, when contractions begin. Early labor can start days before the child is born, and active labor lasts for an average of eight hours. The second stage is birthing, which is when the baby exits the uterus and enters the world; this often takes several hours. After the baby is born, the third stage of labor, delivering the placenta, begins. The third stage usually does not last for more than 30 minutes.
Initial Signs of Labor
When the baby engages into the pelvis, also called dropping or lightening, your body will exhibit certain signs. This can happen days or weeks before you will birth the baby. When this happens, your abdomen will appear lower and protrude more. In addition, your breathing usually becomes easier and eating bigger portions will become more comfortable. The shifting of the baby’s position can also increase back pain and frequency of urination and can make walking more difficult.
Within 48 Hours of Labor
As you near childbirth, you might experience a higher frequency in bowel movements as your body prepares for labor. This can result in flu-like symptoms, but it should not cause fever. If you notice a fever, call your obstetrician or health care professional immediately. In addition, vomiting, indigestion and nausea are common signs of labor. Alongside these symptoms, you might notice a larger amount of vaginal discharge, which is often brown, pink or red.
If You Notice Indigestion or Other Signs of Labor
Call your health care professional or obstetrician and tell him what you are experiencing. She will be able to properly assess if your signs are normal and walk you through what to do next. If you cannot contact your health care professional or obstetrician right away, stay calm, keep your mind occupied and rest until you can. This will help you cope with the predelivery stress that most women experience. In addition, over-the-counter indigestion medication should ease the discomfort. Although indigestion medication is generally considered safe during pregnancy, you should get your obstetrician's approval before taking any medications.