The Third Trimester: When to Call Your Doctor
Before your due date, make sure to talk with your health care provider about how to reach him or her if you go into labor. It's also helpful to be familiar with the hospital or birthing center, where you should park, and where to check in ahead of time. Know that sometimes you can think you're in labor, but really are not (called false labor). This happens to many, many women, so don't feel embarrassed if you go the hospital certain that you are in labor, only to be sent home! It's always better to be seen by a health care provider as soon as possible once labor has begun. Here are the signs of true labor:
- Contractions at regular and increasingly shorter intervals that also become stronger in intensity.
- Lower back pain that doesn't go away. You might also feel premenstrual and crampy.
- Your water breaks (can be a large gush or a continuous trickle) and you have contractions.
- A bloody (brownish or blood-tinged) mucous discharge. This is the mucous plug that blocks the cervix. Labor could be at any time, or days away.
- Your cervix is dilating (opening up) and becoming thinner and softer (also called effacement). During a pelvic exam, your health care provider will be able to tell if these things are happening.