During the last month of pregnancy you may begin to experience a little more discomfort due to the position and movements of the baby. Sitting and rising can be more difficult. Sleeping may be more uncomfortable. There is more pressure on the bladder and strain on the back. Anxiety may be a little high too especially as the end of the ninth month approaches.

Expectant mothers look forward to the due date given to them by their physician. But rarely does labor actually begin on that date. Women tend to get anxious once the due date has come and gone but labor has failed to begin. Now that you are past the expected date of delivery, labor can definitely start at any time but it may not come as soon as you expect. When labor does begin, even women who are pregnant for the first time usually have no difficulty recognizing that they are in labor. At this point in time, arrangements have been made for the moment of labor. The bag is packed and you are ready to go. All you can do now is wait.

From my own personal experience I’ve come to realize that the due date is a guide but certainly not a definite. My first child was born four days past the due date and my second child didn’t arrive until eleven days after the predicted date of delivery. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the doctor and I miscalculated the date for my third child since he was born a whopping five weeks beyond the due date! My fourth child was a premature birth as she came along a month early.

Anyway, when the time is near, you’ll know. One of the earlier signs is the expulsion of the mucus plug. The mucus plug blocks the opening of the cervix during pregnancy. It will appear as a discharge that usually has a pinkish color and a somewhat thick consistency. But the expulsion of the mucus plug doesn’t mean you are in labor yet. It signifies that the cervix is getting itself ready for delivery and beginning to dilate.

The next sign of impending labor is the breaking of the water. In other words, the sac of amniotic fluid tears. This could be a slight gush of fluid or a small trickle. When contractions start, they will feel like cramps that occur at regular intervals. The contractions will continue to increase in intensity and frequency. By the time they’ve reached five minutes apart, you should be on your way to the hospital. Once you arrive at the hospital you will be examined to see how far your cervix has dilated and preparations for delivery will begin. The time spent in labor varies with each pregnancy. My first child was the longest labor with each successive pregnancy having relatively short labors.

Natural childbirth usually foregoes pain medication, preferring to use no drugs or very little if any at all. It focuses more on relaxation and breathing techniques. Many women request that an epidural anesthetic be administered. An epidural blocks pain in a particular area of the body. Local anesthetic such as a spinal block can also be administered to relieve pain.

Emotional support is very important during the labor and delivery process as well. The loving support of caring individuals can help the expectant mother to focus on the birth process in the most positive way. Soon she and her newborn infant can bask in the love of their family and get the much-needed rest they both rightfully deserve.