Signs And Symptoms Vary
What are a few of the signs that labor will really be starting soon? - Teresa in Nebraska
The expert answers
Not only are there are many different signs of labor, each of the symptoms may be experienced differently from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy.
Some early signs that labor may be starting soon include the "nesting instinct" or a sudden burst of energy. Some women, especially first-time moms, notice that the baby has "dropped," that is, his or her head has become engaged in your pelvis and is noticeably lower. You may feel you have more room to breathe and feel hungrier.
On the other hand, with the baby's head engaged in your pelvis, you may feel even more pressure on your bladder.
Another labor sign to be aware of is that when you go to the bathroom, you may notice mucus on the toilet paper. This may appear as the mucus plug starts to dissolve from the cervix. You may also notice some bloody show which is mucus tinged with blood. As labor progresses, you will have more and more "bloody show" as tiny capillaries in the cervix break as it dilates.
Flu-like symptoms, including mild nausea and diarrhea, are yet another sign that labor may be imminent. You may feel a low backache that comes and goes, or you may feel like you are having menstrual cramps. An increase in contractions, whether painful or not, is another sign that labor may be starting.
All the above are only some of the many possible signs of labor -- and, depending on your circumstances and your body, may or may not mean something. The only definite signs that labor really will be starting soon are regular contractions and your water breaking.
The very best way to judge whether it's "real labor" or not is when it's all over. Real labor always results in the birth of a baby!
- Kira Smith, M.Ed, ICCE