When I hit 37 weeks I was packing our hospital bags, putting together my postpartum recovery kit, adding finishing touches to our birth plan and researching early sign of labor so that I could be fully prepared for the big day. Labor is different for every pregnant mama and there is no sign of labor that is going to be the same for every expecting mama.
As a first-time mom, I had no idea what to expect. Some people told me that they were really nauseous before going into labor. Other’s said that they would have lower back pain. I was unsure of what to expect.
There are many signs that labor is near and you probably won’t experience all of them. But knowing what they are can help you know if your near labor or not. The signs I had were baby dropping really low a few weeks before actually going into labor and that was about it until the night I went into labor.
Around 24 weeks I started getting Braxton Hicks. They would come every few hours and last about 30 seconds. Whenever Braxton Hicks would come I would feel them tighten at the bottom of my belly. They were not painful but I did feel some discomfort. One night after watching a movie with my husband I felt a Braxton hick coming on but it was different.
This time they were on top of my belly and they were more painful than previous Braxton hicks. Right at that moment, I knew I was in labor. If you have a few of the sign of labor it is a good sign that labor has started. If labor has started it is important to stay calm and monitor your symptoms and if you are unsure about anything give your midwife or hospital a call. I would even recommend downloading a free contraction timer to your phone so that you can easily keep track of your contractions.
That being said here is a list of 15 signs that labor is near!
1. Your Baby “Drops”
Typically 2-4 weeks before you go into labor your baby will “drop” into your pelvis. When my baby dropped I could feel her head hit my cervix anytime she kicked. It was a crazy feeling! When your baby “drops” that means that they are getting into the birthing position with their head down and low.
When this happens you may notices that you are waddling more. Or that you are needing to go to the bathroom more frequently since your baby is on your batter more. But at least the good news is that you may be able to breath better since your little one has left you a little space to breathe.
As you near your final weeks you may start to notice an increase in camps and discomfort around your pelvic area. As your baby prepares to arrive, your muscles start stretching and your joints loosen up due to your body releasing the hormone relaxin which is allowing your pelvic bones to expanded for childbirth.
During your final few weeks don’t be alarmed if you feel like kicking back and resting for a bit. Your body is doing a lot for the final preparations. If you have intense pain or bleeding call your doctor ASAP!
3. Nausea Returns
You would think that you would only feel nauseous in the first trimester. But that may not be the case. One of the early signs of labor is nausea. I know some women who throw up before going into labor. If you are feeling nauseous make sure you are still drinking plenty of liquids. You don’t want to be dehydrated during labor.
4. Lose The Mucus Plug
You can lose your mucus plug weeks, days, or hours before going into labor. The mucus plug basically seals your uterus off and protects from any bacteria. It can come out all in one piece or in little pieces. It looks similar to mucus that is in your nose. You may not even notice you lost it at all. When I lost mine it was all in one big piece so it was pretty hard to go unnoticed.
You may get diarrhea as your contractions begin. Your muscles in your uterus are starting to relax which means other muscles (like your rectum) are as well. There is a lot that your body goes through. So if you get an upset stomach, vomit or get diarrhea it could be apart of labor. If it gets too intense make sure to call your doctor or the hospital. It is better to know that those things are apart of labor instead of wondering if they are.
6. You Feel The Urge To Nest
Your last few weeks leading to your baby’s arrival can send you into a cleaning frenzy! You might be a very well organized person but you might feel the urge to do more organizing and cleaning than normal. If you find yourself matching your baby’s clothes by colors or vacuuming every inch of your house it’s okay. That is normal! Just don’t overdo yourself!
My husband would have to tell me to sit down and stop cleaning. And it was hard to sit I had a huge urge to clean! My husband was sweet enough to do a lot of the cleaning the last few weeks before our baby arrived.
7. You Feel Really Tired
I was exhausted the last few weeks before I went into labor. You may feel like you went back in time. You constantly need to pee and sleep. With a big belly, it is hard to get a good nights rest. Using a pregnancy pillow can help you get some sleep. Try taking naps during the day if you can. Your body is doing so much to prepare for your baby. By taking naps you can help your body get the rest it needs!
8. Change in Vaginal Discharge Color and Consistency
You may start to notice an increase in vaginal discharge color and consistency. In the last few days, before you go into labor, you might see an increased amount of this thickened pinkish looking discharged called “bloody show” that is a good indicator that labor is closer than ever! But if you are not having contractions or dilation you may still be a few days away.
9. Stronger and More Frequent Contractions
Contractions are a sign of what is called early labor. There are three stages of labor early labor, active labor, and transition phase. If your contractions are irregular and far apart you may be experiencing Braxton Hick contractions. You can get Braxton Hick contractions a few weeks or months before going into labor.
A sure sign that your contractions are real labor contractions and not Braxton Hick contractions are if …
- They are getting stronger and not easing up
- If you change your position they don’t go away
- They are more frequent and more painful
- If your contractions follow a regular pattern
Signs of early labor are
- The feeling of strong menstrual cramps
- Upset stomach
- Lower abdominal pain
- Low back pain
My contractions were on top of my belly and my lower back. That is where I felt them the most!
10. Water Breaks
You know in the movies when a women’s water breaks they rush her to the hospital. And their water breaks at dinner or work? Truthfully that may not happen to you. About 80% of pregnant women get contractions first, then their water breaks. Only 20% of women’s water break first then followed with labor in a few hours.
I wouldn’t count on it being one of your labor signs. But it is still good to know!
11. Low Back Pain
This was a big indicator that I may be in labor for me. During the whole birthing process, I had lower back pain when I would get contractions. You may even feel lower back pain or groin pain weeks or days before going into labor since everything is stretching out.
12. Your Cervix Dilates
Your cervix is getting prepared for the big day too! It will start to dilate (open) and efface (thin out). Think of it this way. If you put a ping pong ball in a ballon and then push the gold ball out you will see the bottom of the ballon get wider and thinner. Here is an amazing video to show you what I mean.