As you get to the end of your pregnancy, all you want to do is give birth to a happy, healthy baby. Instead you need to go through a lot of waiting around, a lot of false alarms, and a lot of times where you wished it were all over. You’re uncomfortable, you’re in a pain, you pee all the time and you really need a break.
You need to know the signs labor is coming soon.
For the most part, the average pregnancy lasts for between 38 to 42 weeks so at any stage during that time, things could start to happen. When it does, you should be prepared.
Every women is different. For some women, labor lasts for days and days, sometimes two or three before doctors and midwives decide to intervene. For other women, the process is over and done with in the blink of an eye, having the baby just moments after realizing she is in labor. For every woman, labor and birth is a completely different scenario.
There are some ‘common’ signs that your baby is on the way though – little tell-tale signs that show things might be slowly starting to move in your favor.
Here are the eight signs labor is coming soon:
1 – ‘Dropping’
If you ever heard of mothers talking about their babies dropping, it happens a few weeks before you actually go into labor and is normally one of the very first signs that you will go into labor soon.
It can happen four weeks before the event, or one week before the event, or just as the event is happening. Your baby must move to a downwards-facing position, head in the pelvis, ready for labor. In doing so, he or she is likely to cause you a lot of discomfort. The extra pressure on your bladder will require frequent trips to the bathroom and every step you take will exhaust your already over-worked body. During this time, you need to take it easy. If your baby is dropping, take it as one of the signs labor is coming soon.
2 – Cramps & Back Pain
You may have experienced ‘Braxton Hicks’ throughout the later stages of the pregnancy but although alarming at first, are slowly gotten used to. However, one of the signs labor is coming soon is back pain and cramps, almost like Braxton Hicks, but feeling a lot more painful and more intense than they were before.
You will know the difference between Braxton Hicks and actual labor contractions at the time. The latter will get quicker and strengthen in intensity whereas Braxton Hicks tend to stay the same and dwindle off after a while.
3 – Loose Joints
Your body is actually preparing your body with pain relief in the last trimester of your pregnancy and you may experience loose joints just before the baby arrives.
Your pelvis joints need to become relaxed before you give birth otherwise the baby will struggle to make its way through. In order to help things get as relaxed as they need to be, the body will start to produce a hormone called relaxin and it does just what the name suggests – it helps the joints and body to relax.
If your joints feel ‘loose’ or ‘funny’, it might be a sign that you will go into labor soon. Your body is naturally producing that natural relaxant to help make things easier on you.
4 – Toilet Trouble
As well as those recurrent trips to the bathroom to relieve your highly-pressured bladder, you may notice another embarrassing problem. You may experience a lack of bowel control, having accidents every now and again.
Diarrhea doesn’t sound pleasant when you are going into labor but unfortunately, the same hormones that help you relax and feel less pain during childbirth is also believed to be the same hormone that helps to move your bowel movements along.
You’ll need to drink plenty of water because diarrhea can lead to dehydration, and make sure you stay close to a toilet. There’s not very much you can do about it – it’s your body’s natural way of getting you ready for labor.
5 – Cervix Dilation
This normally happens right as you are experiencing labor and as your body prepares for the child to come out, the cervix needs to dilate or open up to allow for added stretch. You will find out how far dilated your cervix is when a doctor or midwife examines you but the bulk of the dilating itself won’t happen until the very end of labor when the baby is ready to come out.
Your cervix can start to dilate a few weeks before you go into actual labor although you won’t necessary be aware of it unless you are examined.
6 – Thick Discharge
Another unpleasant side effect for some, thick, white or creamy discharge is another of the obvious signs labor is coming soon.
This discharge could be a rush of hormones to the area but it could also be the mucus plug that breaks free to allow labor to begin. If you experience blood-streaked mucus, it could be a sign that things have started to move along.
If you experience watery discharge, another common sign that labor is about to begin, it could be that your waters have broken and this means the rupture of the amniotic sac with the fluids contained within it erupting out.
This doesn’t happen obviously is all women and only 15% to 25% of women actually experience their waters breaking before labor begins. For so many women, their waters need to be broken by the doctor or midwife.
7 – Contractions
Contractions are very obviously a sign that labor is coming but because of the false alarm’s and Braxton Hicks, the very first contractions can also seem like a false alarm. For a lot of women, it is only after a couple of hours or so when they realize the cramps aren’t going away that they realize they are in actual labor.
If you experience contractions that don’t go away or continue to grow in intensity, you could be going into labor. At first you’ll probably agree that the contractions are somewhat tolerable but after a while, they will become very painful and it would be right to assume you are going into labor. At this stage, you should definitely call your midwife or doctor, or get yourself to a hospital.
8 – Shivering
Some women find that they shake or shiver a lot right before, during and even after their labor and you’ll be happy to know that this is perfectly normal. Your body is undergoing a lot of changes at this time and as well as the rush of hormones, there is a lot of tension, stress and rushed signals.
Shivering is your body’s natural way of relieving tension so just wrap up warm and get comfortable.
*image source: David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net