Signs of Labor

As you get closer to your due date, you may be curious about signs of labor.  While some are very obvious, others are so subtle that many moms mistake them as other pregnancy symptoms.  Today we’re taking a look at signs of labor so you can have a better sense of how it may feel when your little one is about to make her appearance into the world.

Obvious Signs of Labor

The obvious signs of labor are those that we all associate with having a baby.  These include heavy contractions, when your water breaks, loss of your mucus plug and dilation.  Faux contractions call Braxton Hicks can begin as early as the second trimester but these are not a sign of labor.  During early labor, you may feel small contractions every 20 to 30 minutes that are similar to menstrual cramps.  This may cause your back to hurt as well.  As labor progresses, contractions usually get closer together. When contractions are around 5 minutes apart and very intense, you are in active labor.

signs of labor__1452884988_50.243.196.179Your water breaking is another obvious sign of labor.  Usually membranes rupture and amniotic fluid slowly drips, which is often confused with urine and may actually cause you to urinate uncontrollably.  Only 10% of women experience a dramatic gush of fluid when their water breaks.  Once it happens though, you should get to the hospital right away even if you show no other signs of labor.  Your baby is not longer protected by the amniotic sac and is more susceptible to infection.

Loss of the mucus plug that closes off the cervix may result in a bloody show and is a sign that labor is not far off.  Not all women lose their mucus plug or it may not be noticeable.  Besides blood, some women see a stringy mucus-like discharge.  Also, dilation measured in centimeters is a sign of labor although it is only one that medical professionals can really gage for you.  When you are 10 centimeter you are fully dilated and your baby should have the space needed for birth.

Impending Signs of Labor

While the obvious signs of labor usually mean your baby will be born within a day or two, some more subtle signs of labor may tell you that labor is not too far off.  Being aware of these impending signs of labor can help you recognize them when they come.  Two welcome signs of labor are when your baby drops and you can breathe better.  In preparation for birth, your baby will begin to descend in your pelvis at around 36 weeks.  This takes pressure off of your ribs, lungs and diaphragm, helping you breathe better in your last weeks of pregnancy.  Unfortunately it may also mean you feel the need to urinate more because your uterus is now sitting on top of your bladder.  But, of you can enjoy a deep breath of fresh air again, your baby’s probably on the way.

In the final few months of pregnancy, your cervix will begin to thin.  This is another impending sign of labor.  The thinning of the cervix is known as effacement and your doctor may begin to measure your percentage of effacement during your 8th and 9th months of pregnancy.  You may also experience more Braxton Hicks contractions as your cervix thins as there seems to be a correlation between the two.

Many women experience a burst of energy as labor draws near.  This may seem contrary to what you experienced so far in pregnancy, especially during the third trimester when your body is working overtime for you and your baby.  However, the nesting urge to get your home and all your affairs in order before your baby arrives is driven by more energy and concentration during this final stage.  Do be careful not to over-exert yourself and save some much needed energy for labor and once the baby arrives.

We wish you a safe and healthy delivery!!