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Pre-labor marks the first stage of the birth, during which the mother feels only mild, irregular contractions that are not too painful.

Normally, it is during this stage that the mucus plug is released. Up to this point, this gelatinous plug streaked with threads of red or pink (drops of blood from broken capillaries) has blocked the opening of the uterus, isolating it from the outside world.

At the same time, you may feel pains resembling menstrual cramps in the area of your lower back. Often, "the water breaks", which means that the amniotic sack enclosing the fetus in the uterus tears open and the amniotic fluid gushes out.These are all signs that active labor is beginning.

In order to know when you should start for the hospital, you must time the frequency and length of the contractions. The frequency can be measured by measuring the interval between contractions (ranging from 30 down to 15 minutes in the early stages). The length is measured from the beginning of a contraction until it ends (about 15-20 seconds in the early stages).

When the contractions are about 10 minutes apart and last 40-50 seconds, you should go to the hospital. Do not wait too long if...
  • Your water breaks
  • You have a discharge of bright red blood, which could be due to a detached placenta; in this case delay would be dangerous
  • You become fearful. Many laboring mothers prefer to be in their own home during most of labor; others feel safer in the hospital. The most important thing is that you feel calm.
Page created on: 03/09/2012
Last modified on: 03/09/2012
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