Is This It?

There is no sure-fire way to know when you are going to go into labor. However, there are some signs that indicate that labor is impending in the coming weeks or days.

Pregnant woman in labor

Lightening

As your body prepares for the delivery of your baby, particularly if it is your first, you may actually feel the baby "drop" as he gets into position. While this movement can alleviate any pressure you may have felt in your ribcage, you may begin to feel more pressure or a heaviness in your pelvic area.

Braxton Hicks contractions increase

If false labor or Braxton Hicks contractions become stronger and more frequent, it could mean that you're approaching true labor. However, if the contractions do not become longer, more intense and closer together and do not cause your cervix to dilate, then they are not true labor contractions.

Ripening of the cervix

In the onset of true labor, your cervix will progressively dilate to prepare for birth. The connective tissue of the cervix actually softens, thins and opens. As you get closer to your due date, your ob/gyn will begin to check your cervix for these changes to determine if you're dilating.

Bloody show

There is no neat and pretty way to describe the passing of your mucus plug, which happens as your cervix continues to efface or dilate as labor approaches. You could see brown, red or pink mucus in your undies or when you wipe after going to the bathroom. This discharge is the thick mucus that has sealed your cervical canal during the course of your pregnancy.

Your water breaks

Surely you've seen the movies where a woman's water breaks like a tidal wave all over the floor. It could happen this way, but a slow trickle of liquid could also indicate that your water has broken. If you think your water has broken, call your doctor right away. Most doctors want to deliver the baby within 24 hours of the time a woman's water breaks to prevent infection since the amniotic sac is no longer in place to protect baby from germs.

More on labor and delivery

Contraction timer for labor
How to prevent premature labor
Inducing labor: What you need to know

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