The Common (And Not-So-Common) Signs of Early Labor
Clues that your little one might soon make their grand appearance.
It’s been a long day. You’ve been lugging another person around inside you all day, your feet are swollen, and you cannot wait for sweet, sweet sleep.
You take what is hopefully your last bathroom break for the night, shut the lights off, and snuggle up with your pregnancy pillow. Your house is still and silent.
Then, without warning, one of your ears erupts with one of the most annoying sounds imaginable: “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…….”
You are the only one who hears this. How can it be?
How will you ever get to sleep if this continues?
If this is happening for more than a few minutes, you may be experiencing what is called “tinnitus”: the hearing of sound when no other sound is present, and only by you.
While it is commonly called “ringing” in your ears, it can also sound like:
Any of these sounds can happen in one or both of your ears, and be intermittent or constant.
Whether you have experienced this before or not, you are not alone: tinnitus affects over 45 million Americans in some form. The CDC reports that 26% of people reporting tinnitus experienced it constantly (or near constantly).
Tinnitus can be a temporary problem, or a lifelong issue: The American Tinnitus Association reports that 30% of people reporting tinnitus (roughly 20 million Americans) consider it to be “a ‘moderate’ to ‘very big’ problem in their life.”
Tinnitus is not a disease in itself; it’s a symptom of an underlying cause.
While it is commonly associated with hearing damage or loss, it can also be:
Before you scare yourself with that long list of creepy medical terms, take relief in the fact that studies have shown tinnitus to be quite common in pregnancy. Many moms-to-be suffer from this annoyance as well as other ear, nose and throat issues – especially during the third trimester.
The culprit? You guessed it: hormones. The changes in your hormone levels may cause you to be much more sensitive to sound as your pregnancy progresses.
Have you ever felt your own heartbeat in your ears? This is called pulsatile tinnitus and it’s very common during pregnancy. Since your heart is pumping so much more blood through your body, you may actually be hearing the change in blood volume. You may also feel a “fullness” in your ears as a result of your body retaining fluid.
No two cases of tinnitus are the same, and there is currently no “cure”, unfortunately.
There is some good news, though: studies show that this problem usually clears up after delivery (yay!)
First and foremost, you should definitely let your doctor know about this. They will want to check your ears to see if there is a visible problem that they can treat, such as an ear infection or excess wax.
Your doctor may want to do other tests to rule out any more serious conditions, such as hearing loss, blood pressure /circulatory issues, and/or anxiety and depression. Most cases of tinnitus are solved once the root problem is taken care of.
There are things you can do to help manage it, as well:
Tinnitus can be incredibly annoying and stressful, but take comfort that in the fact that you are not alone – and that you will forget all about this once you hold your sweet baby for the first time.