Giving birth may be one of the most exhilarating moments in a woman’s life. But, many early signs of labor can be vague and easily misunderstood. As a matter of fact, even experienced moms can’t really tell when their labor begins. There’s no way to know exactly how labor will start or how long it will last. However, knowing the signs of labor approaching can provide you enough clues to realize when is the time to meet your baby. So, here are the early signs of labor approaching for you.
Also known as baby drops, lightening is one of the major signs of labor approaching. It happens when your baby moves their head lower into your pelvis. Lightening will start a few weeks before labor actually begins (around two to four weeks). However, in some cases, baby drops can happen only a few hours before labor occurs. But in general, if it starts before labor, you’ll definitely be able to tell. There are a few signs you may notice, such as easier to breathe, pelvic pain or simply just going to the bathroom frequently.
There is nothing to be afraid of when this happens and it isn’t always like water breaking in movies. One study shows that the majority of women don’t have issues with their amniotic sac before having regular contractions. Even if your water does break, you’re likely to feel just a small leak because your baby’s head often prevents it from leaking out. Furthermore, most moms spontaneously go into labor within 12 hours after their water breaks.
Strong and more Frequent Contractions
In the last few months of pregnancy, you’ll experience this sensation because the muscles in your uterus tighten to prepare for the big moment. The contractions progress is completely normal and usually lasts about 30 to 70 seconds. But, it can get stronger over time. However, while the intensity tends to build over time during the labor progress, each contraction won’t necessarily be more painful or longer than the previous one. On top of that, the frequency also doesn’t increase in a regular pattern either, but it does gradually increase. Real labor contractions can feel like strong menstrual cramps, stomach upset or pressure in the abdominal. Moreover, the pain could also appear in your lower back area and radiate down to your legs. While true contractions still continue regardless of what you do, false labor contractions might stop if you walk, rest or change position.
Increase in vaginal discharge
During pregnancy, a type of liquid called mucus plus is kept by your cervical. And, it’s just a natural mechanism to protect your baby from infection. But, when you are closing to labor, the cervix begins to widen for your delivery, causing what’s contained there to dislodge. At first, this mucus plug can be clear. But, during this process, it might look a bit brown or pink because a few tiny blood vessels are damaged along the surface of the cervix while it is opening. After you notice the change of color, be prepared because labor could be hours or days away.
More Cramps or increasing Back Pain
You may feel some cramps and pain in your lower back as labor approaching because your muscles and joints are stretching and shifting in preparation for birth. However, if you feel extremely painful in your lower back then it could be a sign of back labor. The reason is that your baby descending might create pressure on your spine. Whether you experience real back labor or not, having back pain is surely a signal that you might need to go to the hospital.
Always remember that no one knows for sure what triggers labor and every woman’s experience is unique. Sometimes it’s really hard sure that labor is happening. Therefore, don’t hesitate to call your healthcare provider if you’re confused about your signs of labor. And, if you have any signs before week 37, especially when you also experience vaginal spotting, please consult your doctor immediately.
After all, there is no need to feel embarrassed or frustrated if you arrive at the hospital because of a false alarm. People do that all the time. And, you can consider it as a practice run because the real thing is likely on its way. Let us know more about your labor experience in the comments below. We wish you and your baby good health.