Going into labor is a scary yet exciting experience. You’ve waited nine months to meet your baby, but it’s going to take a lot of work first. One of the most common questions we get from our patients is how can they tell when they’re going into labor? Eagle’s Landing OB/GYN explains the signs that you are getting close to labor, and the signs that you are in labor below.
Am I Close to Labor?
Obviously, your due date is the first sign that you are getting close to your labor, but due dates are imperfect. Rarely does a woman have her baby the exact day that it’s due. Rather, your body will tell you when it’s getting ready to go into labor and deliver your baby. Specifically, you will notice
- Lightening, which means your baby has moved lower into your pelvis. Many people refer to this as the baby dropping.
- An increase in clear, pink, or slightly bloodied vaginal discharge that can happen right before you go into labor or a few days prior to labor.
- Cervical effacement and dilation. This means that your cervix is thinning out and beginning to open.
- You have an increased instinct to nest, i.e. to get things organized and ready for the baby.
All of these things happen to women prior to labor. Sometimes a woman will notice these things a few days before they go into labor, or just hours before they go into labor. It depends on each individual, but you will notice changes in your body and behaviors that are preparing you for the birth of your baby.
Am I in Labor?
In some cases, going into labor will actually be subtle. No, having a baby is not a subtle thing, but the initial entrance into this phase of your pregnancy might not be as bad as you expect it to be, i.e. your contractions may start small. Signs you have gone into labor and need to get to the hospital as soon as possible include
- Contractions that make it feel as if your uterus is tightening up like a fist and then relaxing. (Labor contractions occur 5 to 10 minutes apart and last 30 to 70 seconds long.)
- Belly pain that starts in your lower back and extends into your lower abdomen. The pain will not go away even if you move around.
- Brown or red discharge that is mucous. This is not your water breaking but rather something called the bloody show.
- Your water breaking, which occurs when the amniotic fluid in your uterus bursts through. In some cases, the water will gush out of your vagina, and in other cases, you may just feel a trickle running down your legs.
When you begin to experience one or more of these symptoms of labor, it’s important that you head to the hospital right away. Even if the labor is false, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s also important not to worry. Your OB from Eagles Landing OB/GYN will do everything he or she can to make delivering your baby as easy as possible.