When a c-section is scheduled ahead of time, rather than performed in an emergency situation, it is very similar to having a scheduled surgery. Usually c-sections are scheduled near your 39th week of pregnancy, or when the baby is ready for life outside the womb. It may be done earlier if you have a scar from a previous c-section on the upper part of your uterus.
Even though you may be planning to have a c-section, it is still important for you to know the signs of going into labor, in case your labor starts before your scheduled c-section.
One of the first signs of labor is intense contractions of your uterus that come at regular intervals. Another sign is when your cervix starts to dilate, and the protective mucus plug loosens and falls out. It is also possible for your water to break at this point, which is the last sign we'll talk about. When your water breaks, this means that the amniotic sac in your uterus has burst and released the amniotic fluid. Usually, contractions will get stronger after your water breaks. If you have these signs you should call your doctor or the birthing center to determine if you actually are in labor.
There are also some signs that mean you should call your doctor right away. These are if:
· You have vaginal bleeding, that is either more than spotting or is bright red,
· Your water breaks, and you are NOT having contractions,
· Your contractions are closer together than every 5 minutes,
· You have severe and constant pain, rather than contractions, or
· You are more than 3 weeks away from your due date, but are having more than 5 contractions in an hour.
These may be signs that either you or your baby are having trouble, or that you will need to see your health care provider as soon as possible. In any case, you may need to go to the birthing center right away.
Once there, a medical professional should check to make sure that you are actually in labor. If you are not, they may want to observe you for awhile, and then suggest that you go home with instructions about what to watch for. If you ARE in labor they will prepare you for your delivery.