The Signs and Symptoms of Labor

You’ve spent 9 months in anticipation waiting to meet the tiny human growing in your belly and the time is finally almost here! Here are some signs that labor is near and your baby is getting ready to make their grand entrance into the world.

Signs Labor is Coming

Most women don’t go into labor without some warning. You’ll probably have a hunch when the time comes.  Just make sure that hospital bag is packed and ready to go.

While every pregnancy and woman is different, these are some signs you may notice that may indicate labor is coming:

Your baby drops lower into your pelvis. This is called lightening and it means your baby is getting into position for birth. This could happen anywhere from a few weeks to a few hours before you go into labor.

You have an increase in discharge that may appear pink or slightly bloody, also known as a bloody show. This is the loss of your mucus plug and it often appears a couple of days before labor.

The nesting phase has kicked in. You want nothing more than to organize and get everything ready at home for baby. While preparing the baby’s room is exciting, be sure not to overwork yourself. You’ll want all of your energy when you go into labor.

Your cervix has begun to dilate. Before you go into labor, your cervix is about 3.5-4 centimeters long and will be at 10 centimeters by the time baby is ready to arrive. This process is different for everyone, so don’t be discouraged if it’s taking you longer to dilate than hoped for.

False Labor and Braxton-Hicks Contractions

You may have contractions before true labor starts. These are referred to as Braxton-Hicks contractions or false labor. These often occur in the weeks before your due date and they help soften and thin your cervix to prepare it for birth.

If you’re having your first child, it may be hard to tell if it’s the real deal or just a false alarm. Here are some signs to help you know if what you’re feeling is Braxton-Hicks contractions:

Irregular contractions. If your contractions are irregular and stay irregular, then they’re probably Braxton-Hicks. You also may be more likely to have them later in the day or after physical activity. Use a timer to track them.

The contractions aren’t strong. Braxton-Hicks are usually mild and don’t get stronger over time, though they may still be painful. They may also stop when you change positions or walk.

If you still have any doubts on whether you’re in true labor or not, be sure to call your health care provider for advice.

Signs Labor is Here

These are the signs you’ll notice when active labor has officially started:

Your water breaks. This could be a gush of water or might just feel like a trickle. When it breaks, be sure to notify your doctor or midwife. Most women go into labor within the next 24 hours of their water breaking.

You’re having strong and regular contractions. When active labor begins, contractions will feel stronger, closer together, and be more regular. You won’t be able to walk or talk during these. They’ll last about 30 to 70 seconds and be about 5 to 10 minutes apart. It’s important to time them to keep track of your progress.

You have pain in your lower back. As the pressure on your back increases, you could experience a backache. This pain doesn’t go away when you move or change positions.

You may also feel cramps in your leg or nauseated once active labor begins.

Active labor may last anywhere from four to eight hours, sometimes longer. Most women will dilate one centimeter an hour. When your water breaks and your contractions happen more regularly, it’s time to head to the hospital. Baby is on the way!

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