Finally! Your baby is nearly here. It has been a long nine months, and you are already yearning to hold your newborn in your arms. Many expectant women usually know their expected due date but as it happens in most cases your baby might not come on the exact date but, come earlier or later than expected. Due to this unpredictability, it’s common for most of us to fail to identify the signs that labor is coming soon and hence you become surprised when the contractions start. The symptoms before labor begins are different from one woman to the other and even in various births, and sometimes an expectant mom might not be sure whether the contractions she is feeling are the real deal or just a false alarm. Read on a few telltale signs of labor approaching that will help you be better prepared.
1. Baby drops
Also referred to as lightening, it happens when your baby changes position in your uterus and descends lower in your pelvis in readiness to be born. The precise time when it happens is usually different for each woman, but it occurs mostly between the second and fourth week before you give birth. For moms who have experienced labor before, the baby dropping may happen a few hours before or just as labor begins because their bodies do not require as much time adjusting. Although you can now breathe easier and eat more, you will also need to pee a lot more often due to the increased pressure on your bladder. This process may go unnoticed for some, but for others, it can happen as a sudden movement.
2. Cervical dilation
Cervix dilating and thinning out are common symptoms experienced as you verge on your final trimester. When this happens, it is a sign that your cervix is in preparation of impending birth. Cervix dilation is one of the symptoms before labor begins. Frequent visits to your health professional during the end of your final trimester are very important as they will check if your cervix is dilated and monitor the changes; it might be a sign of your baby coming soon. However, the rate of dilation differs per person, and you don’t have to feel disappointed if you are not dilated yet.
3. Fatigue or nesting
Do you feel the need to nest or more tired than usual? Such feelings could be a coming soon sign your body is sending you. Due to the increased baby bump size and frequent need to urinate, most pregnant women from an early stage don’t get the chance to enjoy a good night’s sleep and feel fatigued during the day. It is okay to take frequent naps during the day to recover some much-needed energy. You are carrying another human after all. Others, however, experience increased energy and a need to remain active while cleaning or organizing. In case you are the latter kind, keep on doing what makes you happy but be careful not to overdo it.
4. ‘Bloody show’
Among others, early signs of labor is the releasing of the mucus plug. Its main purpose is to block the cervix and protect the baby from infections such as bacteria. This mucus is similar to that in your nose and is a stringy discharge and not as solid as many think. It can be transparent, pink, or tinged with blood (hence the name ‘bloody show’) resulting from the tearing of some blood vessels as the cervix dilates. The passing of the mucus signs labor few days away, and you should be ready.
5. Diarrhea and nausea
Unfortunately, nausea does not occur only in the first trimester. It’s unclear what causes this feeling at this stage. Also, you might experience an upset stomach and loosening of the bowels. Your muscles loosen when you go through labor, the rectum muscles among them. Although it might be annoying, diarrhea is a good sign.
6. Persistent lower back pains
Majority of expectant moms experience backaches throughout their pregnancy. However, during the early stages of labor, the pain will become harsher. For second-time moms, experiencing rhythmic lower back pain and cramps pre labor is not sparse. According to experts, you might also experience some back labor if your baby’s position is causing the uterus to push up against your spine during birth.
7. Regular contractions
This topic is one that many women do lots of research on when they are near their due date. What is a contraction? How do you know that what you are experiencing are the real contractions? What does a contraction feel like? Well, contraction is the tightening in the abdomen that might or might not be painful. During pregnancy, women experience lots of different kinds of contractions, and some might start as early as in the first trimester as your body slowly adjusts. In the third trimester, you might have been experiencing Braxton-Hicks which make it quite confusing when your real contractions begin, and you might still think it’s a false alarm. Although Braxton-Hicks can also be signs labor is near, they are brief, inconsistent and happens when one changes position.
You will know the real baby signs when the contractions you experience are consistent in timing and are more intense than false labor signs. It is often not possible for you to talk or breath deeply through the duration one lasts. You can also learn how to time contractions or have your health professional time them to record how long they last and how far apart they are from each other. With the passage of time, real contractions become closer together, stronger and more painful.
8. Water breaks
Many expectant women are misinformed about what happens when your water breaks. The presumptive thought that when a woman’s water breaks usually occur as a sudden outpour of amniotic fluid only happens in one in every ten women. Majority normally experience a constant trickle of discharge. Water breaking is also one of the most common signs of early labor. For most women, the rupturing of the membranes occurs when they are at home sleeping and due to the uterus and bladder position you might leak some urine making it challenging to differentiate between the two fluids. The leaking amniotic fluid has no smell, unlike urine. If it is odorless, contact your healthcare professional as soon as you can. Your baby is on the way!
You probably have been waiting patiently or impatiently for your baby to finally arrive and the time is here. A pregnant woman who is days away from the due date often wonders when any contraction or discomfort she feels; am I in labor? Are these labor pains? However, childbirth is a long process, and you won’t accidentally pop out a baby in the middle of the street. Although you might be feeling anxious about how to go into labor, you can avoid being caught unawares when the time comes by staying on the lookout for the early signs of labor discussed above. Every woman’s labor experience is different and unique in its own way. You will have your own story to tell.