Early Signs of Labor! What you need to know!

Early Signs of LaborHey Everyone! So as many of you hopefully know I am very very pregnant! Today I am 38 weeks and 4 days!! This means that I am oh so close to giving birth! (Have you read about my decision to have a Natural Childbirth?) Regardless, this pregnancy seems to drag on and on and on!

I had my 38 week midwife appointment today and she said the baby has dropped, which explains why the top of my belly seems to be squishier than normal and the increased pain in my cervix! She said. however that the baby will probably not come until around 40 weeks! It is true that most babies come at the 40 week mark (that’s why its your DUE DATE) but I can’t believe I still have to wait 2 more weeks.

As soon as I got home I went straight for my Pregnancy Bible What to Expect When You’re Expecting to learn more about early labor signs! Every little pain or cramp that I have I think, MAYBEEEEE this is it! But so far, a big fat nothing.

Anyway, after reading through my favorite pregnancy book (once again) I decided to share with you some information on the early signs of labor! So without further adieu, here are all the labor signs you shouldn’t ignore!

Pre-Labor (1-4 weeks before labor)

  1. The Baby “Drops:” we have all probably heard a little something about the baby dropping. But what does that mean exactly? It means that the baby is fully engaged and has settled into its final position before birth! For first time mothers this can happen as soon as 4 weeks before birth, but for women with previous childbirth experience it doesn’t usually happen until you are actually in labor! At this point you may feel a sense of lightning in your tummy, which can give you a little bit more room to breath, eat, and will hopefully relieve some of that heartburn (mine is still going strong unfortunately!) You may also feel yourself waddling more as the baby is settled very low in your pelvis! You may also have more of those lightning pains in your cervix and an increased need to pee!
  2. Your Cervix Dilates: As your labor nears, your cervix will start to soften and ripen to prepare for labor. Your midwife or doctor may check how dilated you are in the final weeks of your pregnancy (Although mine does not!). Eating 6 dates a day starting a few weeks before can drastically help ripen your cervix to prepare for labor! (Read The Magic of Dates for more information)
  3. Increased back pain and more cramps: as your muscles and ligaments prepare for labor you will probably feel some pain in your lower back as well as some more cramps in your uterus and groin area. If you are feeling Braxton Hicks cramps you will probably start to feel a lot more around this time!
  4. Loose Bowel Movements: As all your muscles start to relax in preparation for labor so does your rectum! You may start to experience loose bowel movements as you get closer to labor. Which might be a relief if you have suffered from constipation and hemorrhoids throughout your pregnancy.
  5. Fatigue or a burst of energy: You may feel extra sleepy in the last few weeks of your pregnancy! All that work your body is doing to prepare for labor can be pretty exhausting! You may, however, be feeling the opposite as your nesting instinct kicks in and you feel a burst of energy! You may feel the urge to clean the house or make all your last-minute baby preparations. Whichever way you are feeling, make sure to take it easy and rest up as much as you can to prepare for your big day!
Think your in Labor? Check out these early signs of labor! Click To Tweet

Early Labor (The hours before labor begins)Signs of Labor

 

  1. Loss of the Mucous Plug: The Mucous plug is what seals off your cervix and keeps your baby safe inside your uterus, but as your cervix starts dilating the plug falls away. It can come out in one large chunk or can come our slowly. You may see an increase in mucous-y vaginal discharge that may even be spotted red or pink. This is called your bloody show and usually happens when you lose your mucous plug.
  2. Stronger more frequent contractions: You will start to feel more contractions that just don’t let up. “Fake”or “Braxton Hicks”contractions usually let up when you change position or move but these contractions do not! Instead they keep feeling stronger, more frequent, and more painful!
  3. Your Water Breaks: One of the final signs of labor is your water breaking. When you feel your water break you should give birth within 24 hours to prevent infection. Your water breaking, however, generally doesn’t happen until you are already fully aware that you are in labor!

If you experience these signs before you are 37 weeks pregnant be sure to call your doctor immediately! You could be going into Pre-Term labor!

When to call?

Every midwife or doctor has different protocols, but generally you should call when:

  • You are experiencing contractions that last for 1 minute
  • Contractions are about 3-5 Minutes apart
  • You experience this for about an hour

You should also always call your midwife if:

  • Your water breaks and it looks green or brown. This is an indication that the baby has had its first bowel movement and can pose risks to both you and your baby!

I don’t know about you but I am DYING to get my labor started and meet my baby! I am experiencing some of these signs, but that could still mean that labor is a few weeks away! There are some ways to help induce labor naturally, that have actually been proven to work so I urge some of you to try them (myself included!)

Wish me luck as I hope this baby comes as soon as possible! And as always, thank you for reading =)

10 Comments

  1. Vanessa October 27, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    Looking back at my first pregnancy I “ignored” all of these signs because I HAD NO clue!!!! I had my last prenatal appointment at 39 weeks 3 days and told my midwife, “I feel nothing, I’m pretty sure the baby is stuck in there forever!” She then asked, “does you tummy get hard and then soft periodically?” I was like, “heck yeah, ALLLLL the time!” She laughed and said those are braxton hicks. See, I knew nothing. Now I’m in my second pregnancy and I can already tell a different with how I feel and paying attention to the little things! 🙂 Good luck mama. You are about to experience the most amazing feeling ever (motherhood, not birth! lol).

  2. Samantha October 27, 2016 / 10:22 pm

    ” I am experiencing some of these signs, but that could still mean that labor is a few weeks away!”

    Goodness, yes! When I was pregnant with my son, I experienced prodormal labor (real labor that starts and stops) for over a month! I’m so glad my water broke on its own, because I never would have known when to go to the hospital otherwise. Hopefully your little one will make an appearance soon. Good luck!

  3. Jessica October 28, 2016 / 1:51 am

    Love this! So informative. As a mom of both a full term and premature baby, these signs are SO crucial to pay attention to!

  4. Julie October 28, 2016 / 5:11 am

    Great list! It seems like in all 3 pregnancies, the last week I was on google constantly checking symptoms. Good luck with your labor!

  5. Emily October 28, 2016 / 3:47 pm

    Yay! So close but so far at the same time! I remember this period of waiting soooo well. It’s like you’re in limbo! Around 40 weeks I started some of the natural ways to induce labor. I took evening promise oil, walked a ton, got adjustments from the chiropractor (&she applied pressure to some pressure points), and I rubbed some clary sage essential oil on my belly twice a day. Didn’t take long….I went into labor like a day after my due date/starting these things!! Best of luck! Labor/delivery/giving birth is a beautiful and empowering thing! You can do this mama! Your body was made for this! My best tips: breathe!!!!!! “Open jaw, open cervix” Trust your body’s natural instincts. Move! I swayed a LOT during labor & laying or sitting down was the worst. That’s when it hurt or was painful. Sorry you didn’t ask for all that, but I hope it’s encouraging and helpful!!! xx

    • Summer November 15, 2016 / 9:09 pm

      That helps me a lot I’m a first timer and I have no idea what even might help.

  6. Tabitha October 29, 2016 / 1:20 am

    I definitely could have used some of these when I was in labor. I had no idea till it was almost too late! I was 8cm when they checked me!

  7. Natasha November 16, 2016 / 2:46 am

    Great tips. 🙂 I also found it hard to be sure when I was in early labor with my first. Just wanted to also say, check what you say about giving birth within two hours of your water breaking. General recommendations are usually between 24 and 36 hours, depending on the dr or midwife. Might worry some people.

    • Melissa November 20, 2016 / 1:53 pm

      Agree – my doc wanted him out within 24 hours of water breaking. He came about 12 hours later, thinking it should have been two would have freaked me out!

  8. Lauren November 20, 2017 / 8:04 am

    My Braxton Hicks contractions feel so much like the early start of labor that I can’t tell them apart from real contractions. They were perfectly timed and everything. My first baby I went to the hospital like 5 times over them. By time I was pregnant with my third baby I kinda had started ignoring them. I woke up having what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions, I ignored them all day, told my husband to go on to work that I would be fine, went out and did a few errands, (yes I ran errands while in labor) and then came home because I was starting to get worried so I told my husband I was going to lay down and drink some water while the kids napped to see if I could get the contractions to stop. Woke up an hour later to horrible contractions and I knew it was time. They were between 3 and 5 min apart. I loaded the kids up, call my mom and husband and drove myself to the hospital. I arrived a little after 4 and told them I was in labor, they filled out my paper work and got me up to a regular room to check me at 4:30. By time I got up there I was screaming in pain, contractions became 30 seconds to a minute apart and were so intense I couldn’t move off of my right side. I was still just dilated to a 4 which is what I had been for 3 weeks. Doctor and nurses left the room to get something, I tried to roll off my right side, had a horrible unbearable contraction as I did this, felt the urge to push and my body just involuntarily start pushing. My water broke and my baby girl’s head came out, my mom and husband started screaming for the nurse and a group ran in and delivered her the rest of the way. She was born at 5pm on the dot. I’ve had 3 babies and I’ve had them all at 39 weeks, and I still can’t tell the difference between a Braxton Hick contraction and early labor. They feel the exact same to me.

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