Early signs & symptoms of labor: What to watch for

You start to experience real contractions

Your body uses uterine contractions to move your unborn child into position for delivery. Generally speaking, the first stage of labor is when you begin to feel real contractions.

Early labor contractions last for hours or days and are light and erratic. But real contractions get stronger as you get closer to active labor. They are frequently compared to menstrual cramps or the excruciating stomach pain that may be brought on by gas or an intestinal problem.

The fact that true contractions occur at regular intervals and increase in frequency over time is one of the primary ways to distinguish them from Braxton Hicks contractions. Using a stopwatch and a piece of paper, you can chart the beginning and end times of each contraction to keep track of your contraction intervals.

You can use these crucial distinctions to determine when to take contractions to the hospital.

True labor False labor
Contractions happen at regular intervals Contractions happen irregularly
Contraction intensity increases Contraction intensity is relatively consistent
The time between contractions shortens The time between contractions doesn’t shorten
Discomfort remains regardless of position or movement Changing position or moving around often relieves discomfort

Signs that labor is coming soon but hasn’t started yet

Since a typical pregnancy lasts between 37 and 42 weeks from the start of your last period, your body begins preparing for the big event as you approach your later 30s. The following alterations are indicators that the big day is drawing near but do not necessarily indicate that it is time to visit the hospital:

Cervical exams may reveal some of the most significant alterations to your body prior to labor. Your cervix may start to soften and efface (get thinner) as labor approaches. These modifications enable your cervix to dilate (open and widen), which is required to deliver your baby.

Around week 36, your doctor or midwife may examine your cervix and the position of your baby to look for changes. It’s crucial to keep in mind that everyone experiences these changes in a unique way. Alternatively, progress might begin slowly before picking up quickly just before labor.

Additionally, it’s typical for labor to start with few physical changes. Your cervix will keep dilating once labor actually starts until it reaches 10 centimeters, at which point it is considered fully dilated. Full dilation is what’s needed to start delivery.

Mild irregular contractions known as Braxton Hicks are more prevalent during the third trimester of pregnancy. Braxton Hicks contractions may start long before other labor-related symptoms do. As your due date approaches, they tend to get worse and more frequent. Not in the same way that typical contractions are (we’ll discuss that below), but is this cramping a sign of labor? And not everyone notices Braxton Hicks contractions.

The ligaments in your body, especially those in your pelvis, will become more supple throughout your pregnancy thanks to the hormone relaxin. This will aid in your body’s flexibility and stretching during labor, but you might experience discomfort or pain in your pelvic region. It’s also typical to feel a little unsteady as your due date draws near, especially in your hips and lower back. This is due to the fact that your joints’ surrounding muscles now require more effort to maintain their stability.

At any point in the pregnancy, stomach discomfort is not unusual. The question “Is nausea a sign that labor is approaching?” may arise if it worsens late in your third trimester. The answer is, sort of. The other objects in your abdomen are vying for space with your baby as it continues to grow. As a result, you may experience indigestion and heartburn. However, these problems might persist for weeks or even months.

But at the end of pregnancy, diarrhea is frequently a sign that labor is 24 to 48 hours away. But those numbers can vary.

The position of the baby is one of the things that doctors may examine during cervical exams, as was previously mentioned. This is due in part to your baby likely settling into your pelvic region as your due date approaches, a process known as the baby “dropping” or “lightening.”

For first-time mothers, lightning typically occurs two to four weeks before labor. Those who have previously given birth might not notice lightning until much closer to labor

The new position of your infant could put more pressure on your pelvis and bladder. You may be accustomed to frequent urination as a symptom of pregnancy, but even more frequent urination could be an indication that labor is about to start.

However, lightening sometimes makes it feel easier to breathe. Additionally, because the organs and stomach are not under as much stress, it might lessen heartburn.

In the weeks leading up to delivery, many expectant mothers experience an increase in energy and a desire to get things done. Although the science behind it is unclear, there are theories that suggest it may be due to instinct or the effects of estrogen peaks.

Whatever the reason, these “nesting instincts” may manifest as pre-labor preparation, house cleaning or organization, or other actions that aid in the baby’s arrival. Just make sure not to focus all of your energy on it if you encounter this. Going into labor, you’ll need as much energy as you can.

Our 24/7 BabyLine is free for our members and patients if you have any queries or concerns regarding labor signs.

You feel consistent pain in your belly and lower back

Once contractions actually start, you’ll experience abdominal pain as a result. Additionally, the pressure from your baby’s head could affect your lower back. So, is this back pain an indication of labor? Back to front waves of pain are common when labor is just beginning.

Labor Signs before my water broke at 39 Weeks!

Leave a Comment