Afraid of Going Into Labor in Public

I am pregnant and still attend school. I am scared that I may go into labor during class. How can I deal with the beginning of labor if this does happen to me while I am at school?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

When we are pregnant, we have images of the ideal baby, the ideal labor and birth, and the ideal experience in general. Seldom are our expectations, both good and bad, totally fulfilled.

Babies, it is true, come at all times of the day and night. And labor starts differently for all women. For a small minority, labor starts with a huge gush of fluid. This can be embarrassing, but most people are very understanding.

When I was pregnant, my childbirth instructor recommended carrying around a jar of pickles. If the bag of waters ruptured suddenly, we could just drop the pickle jar and blame the mess on that! It might be a good idea to carry a small towel for this eventuality, although it is an unlikely scenario.

In actuality, few labors start with a huge gush of fluid. Especially if this is your first labor, the baby's head is often engaged, or close to engaged, at the start of labor. This forms a "plug" of sorts, so even if the bag of waters breaks, usually just a small amount of fluid is released. Most women experience this as a slight dampness; in fact, many women are unsure if this is the amniotic sac or merely their bladder leaking.

Most labors start with some lower back pain or menstrual-like pelvic cramping. The contractions are felt as tightening of the uterus but are very mild and are initially irregular. First time mothers have a lot of time to get home and have a meal, rest, and start timing the contractions.

The first contraction, or often the first 100 contractions, rarely elicits an exclamation from the mother. They start out very gradually, becoming more frequent and more intense as the hours go by. Indeed, if the first few contractions caused that much discomfort, I would encourage a mother to go to the hospital as this would be unusual.

My advice is to try not to worry about this scenario. Most people are very kind, and actually excited, when they hear someone is in labor. And the likelihood of hard labor starting at school is very remote.

I hope this has helped ease your mind. I wish you a great experience and a healthy and happy baby.

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