The last weeks and days can really stretch, especially when you’re looking for any sign that something is beginning to happen.
Here is a list of some of the signs that may indicate labor is either about to start or will be starting in the next few days.
Disclaimer: Every woman is different and will experience different signs before going into labor.
This is a guide to some of the signs that may indicate labor is near – but it is no way a guarantee.
If you have any concerns or unsure if labor has begun, you should always contact your medical carer for advice.
You may also want to read about pregnancy bleeding and discharge.
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15 Minutes That Can Change Your Newborn’s Life
Before reading on, I highly recommend reading this article on a simple procedure that can give your baby a better start to life (especially if they have complications or are preemie.)Read more here.
Some women have no signs at all before labor begins other than their first contraction.
OR MAYBE…the signals have been so slight or confused with other pregnancy symptoms that you haven’t noticed.
Due to increased hormone levels, some women may experience an outbreak of pimples in the last few days before labor begins.
OR MAYBE… you just ate too much chocolate.
Back pain is a quite common sign of impending labor. In fact sometimes back pain may in fact be contractions.
OR MAYBE… you’re just getting back pain from the extra weight and pressure of baby, or baby is in a posterior position.
Often blood pressure may go up in the last one or two days before labor begins.
OR MAYBE… it’s an indication of other problems that your doctor will need to check, such as preeclampsia.
When you wipe, you may notice a brown or red display of blood that means labor is close.
OR MAYBE… it’s just a sign that labor is a week or two away.
Although these fake contractions are common after 20 weeks gestation, they often become stronger or feel different shortly before labor begins, and occasionally may even be confused with real contractions.
OR MAYBE… you’re just experiencing more braxton hicks than usual.
It’s quite common to experience increased crankiness or moodiness in the days or hours before going into labor.
OR MAYBE… you’re just having a bad day.
This is a quite common sign that labor will be starting soon. The body begins to clean out in preparation for birth. It can last anywhere from a few hours up to a week.
OR MAYBE… you’ve just picked up a virus or eaten some slightly off food.
Dilation & Effacement
This will need to be checked by a doctor or health care worker, but as labor nears, the cervix both thins (effaces) and dilates (opens up).
OR MAYBE… you’re just one of those women who dilates weeks before labor begins (some women can dilate up to ten weeks before birth, while others can go from completely closed to 10cm in a couple of hours.)
Some women experience dizziness in the hours before labor begins.
OR MAYBE… you just need to stop doing so much and have a high protein snack.
As the baby moves into the birth canal, a woman may find breathing is easier and her chest feels more comfortable.
OR MAYBE… sitting down and taking a break may be helping your breathe easier.
It’s not uncommon to experience a burst of energy as the body prepares for labor.
OR MAYBE… that good night’s sleep you finally got and a few healthy meals has made you feel a bit better.
Foetal Movement Changes
Often your baby will become more active before labor begins, or in some cases, movement will slow down (if baby stops moving you need to call your hospital.)
OR MAYBE… baby is just having a burst of energy or a lazy day.
Many women experience a feeling of lightness in their upper body as baby moves down into the birth canal. This usually happens a week or more before labor in first time pregnancies and a day or so in later pregnancies.
OR MAYBE… baby is just having fun teasing you!
It’s not unusual to lose several pounds in the last few days before labor starts.
OR MAYBE… you need to weigh yourself at the same time of day, for instance before a meal.
Losing or Gaining Appetite
Often women will find they’re either ravenous or feel completely full before labor begins.
OR MAYBE… baby’s been squishing your stomach more than usual.
The plug of mucous that seals the cervix and helps protect baby from infection may come away in pieces or a single blood streaked glob.
OR MAYBE…you’ve lost it early due to activity or the baby and it will grow back (yes, a plug can grow back if lost too early.) Some women don’t lose their plugs until they begin labor while others lose them days or weeks before.
One of the most commonly talked about signs of impending labor, many women begin cleaning and re-arranging baby items in the days or hours before labor begins.
OR MAYBE… you’ve been putting it off for awhile and you’re doing it because you know you need to stop procrastinating!
Animals seem to be very aware of changes in their masters. It’s not unusual for dogs or cats to follow around pregnant women like a shadow in the hours before labor begins.
OR MAYBE… your pet is just feeling friendly.
It’s not unusual for women about to go into labor to have uncontrollable shakes and shivers, on and off.
OR MAYBE… you just have low blood sugar or need a blanket.
Before going into labor, many women say that experienced the best nights sleep they’ve had in weeks.
OR MAYBE... you’re finally getting used to the huge baby bump (is that possible?)
As labor nears, many women find they have an increase in runny noses due to the higher level of hormones in their body.
OR MAYBE… you’re starting to get a cold (and should go see the doctor!)
Although you’ve probably had swelling in at least your hands or feet in the third trimester, it’s not unsual to experience more swelling or even swelling in new places before labor begins – for instance in the lips.
OR MAYBE… you just need to put your feet up more and get your partner to give you some more massages!
Throwing Up or Nausea
It’s not unusual to throw up shortly before labor begins as your body tries to clean itself out in preparation for delivery.
OR MAYBE… you just ate too much for dinner or have a stomach bug.
This is a sign that many people talk about but is actually not that common – in fact only 10-15% of labors begin with the amniotic sac breaking.
OR MAYBE… your waters can break but if it’s a little break, it can actually heal. If you don’t start labor within 72-96 hours after a major break, usually you’ll be induced.
You may have got a laugh out of this article – or you may have gotten some ideas about what to expect. Either way, the signs before labor begins can be very different for every woman. Let’s hope that your signs are the ones you want!