Chapter 9: Getting ready for labor and birth
There are two kinds of contractions: practice contractions and labor
contractions. Practice contractions happen throughout pregnancy. They are
usually felt high in the belly (or all over the belly), and are mild and irregular.
Many women do not even notice them. Practice contractions may start and stop
several times. They will often go away if the mother changes what she is doing.
For example, if the mother is walking when the practice contractions start, they
may stop when she sits down.
Practice contractions may get stronger and start to come more often a few days
before labor begins.
Labor contractions begin closer to the time the baby is born. They are usually
felt lower in the belly or back and get much stronger than practice contractions.
Labor contractions usually become more and more strong and can be very painful
The mother feels different
Sometimes a woman can feel that labor is
near. She may feel dreamy, very quiet, and
aware of her body. Or she may simply feel
a strong urge to stay home and wait.
All these feelings are normal.
Some women want to clean and
rearrange their homes before labor starts.
This desire is normal — but the woman
should not work too hard. Her labor may
start at any time, and she needs to save her strength.
Her family can help her do chores and get rest.
It’s late. Let me
take care of that
so you can get
Many mothers get loose stool (diarrhea) before they go into labor. This helps
clean out the body so the woman will be more comfortable during labor and birth.
During most of pregnancy, the tiny opening in the cervix is
plugged with mucus.
In the last few days of pregnancy, the cervix
may begin to open. Sometimes the mucus
and a little bit of blood drip out of the cervix
and out of the vagina. This is called show.
Show may come out all at once, like a
plug, or it may leak slowly for several days.
When you see show, you know that the cervix is softening,
thinning, and beginning to open. Labor will probably start in
a day or 2.
A Book for Midwives (2010)