The early signs of labor can be tricky to pinpoint and can first occur when the trip to the hospital is still days away. Here are some telltale signs that will help you realize that labor is near.
Signs of labor
A few weeks or even a few months before the due date, you may feel a sudden spurt of energy. Suddenly, you feel productive. You set up the nursery, throw out the recyclables, sweep the house, and do the laundry. Nesting is one of the less known early signs of labor and can lead to strange behavior in some women, such as throwing out perfectly good sheets or disinfecting screws on the door knob. Nesting can also be seen in females of the animal kingdom and is brought about by an instinct to prepare for the baby’s arrival.
Shivering, even when not cold, can happen in early labor, during birth, or after birth. It usually lasts a few minutes and is your body’s way of relieving tension.
Your bowels may be stimulated several days before birth. Your body naturally empties your bowels in order to make way for the baby, as labor approaches.
Lower back ache
The baby will get heavier and drop lower, leading to lower back and pelvis pain.
Braxton Hicks contractions
These are “false alarms” and, therefore quite confusing early signs of labor. Unlike labor contractions, Braxton Hicks contractions do not increase in duration and strength. They are irregular and a change of position often relieves them.
Dilation of the cervix
Dilation accompanies effacement and is the opening of the cervix during childbirth. It may occur before or after effacement.
Loss of mucus plug
As the cervix become thinner, the mucus plug that protects the cervix is loosened and passes out of the vagina. The mucus may be tinged with blood and, for this reason, is often called a “bloody show.”
Labor contractions are consistent, at regular intervals, and become more painful over time. Usually, they cannot be relieved by a change in position. Strong and regular contractions (usually about 3-5 minutes apart) are often a sign you are in labor.
Most women’s water breaks only well into labor, so this event is among the telltale signs labor is near, very near. When your water breaks, you will have no control over the flow and there is no smell of urine. The water should be clear or pinkish, but if it is any other color, you should get it checked with your midwife or doctor.