7 Signs That Labor is Approaching

Signs of Labor

Sometime around 37 weeks you will probably start really paying attention to every little thing going on in your body.  Obviously your baby can decide to come at any time (hopefully, no earlier than this though), and knowing the 7 signs that labor is approaching is really important so you can be as prepared as possible. 

This is a super exciting (and scary) time and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be living on mom forums, blogs, and looking for answers to when baby will be coming.  

While there is no real way to know (unless you have a scheduled induction or c-section), being as prepared as possible will help ease your mind. 

7 Signs That Labor is Approaching:

  1. Lightning:

    • Lightning is often times one of the first signs you will notice.  It’s this wonderful time when the baby begins to drop further down into your pelvis and gives you a sense of ‘lightening’ since the baby is no longer putting as much pressure on your lungs. However, you may feel more pressure on your bladder and may urinate even more often. 

  2. Nesting: 

    • You’ve probably heard of this phenomenon that usually happens in your second half of pregnancy, but can often occur more so as you get closer to delivering.  

    • You might have a sudden urge to clean the house, get the nursery in order, or embark on a big home improvement project. Embrace this, and use this new found energy to get ready for baby.  However, be smart about it and take care of yourself! Delivery may be just around the corner and you’ll need to conserve as much energy as you can!

  3. Change in vaginal discharge/ losing your mucus plug:

    • Sounds great right? As yucky as it may be, this sign can be a huge indicator that things are happening in your body and that baby may be coming shortly. Your discharge may increase and become thicker in the days leading up to labor.  You may even see it change colors or look different than the norm. 

    • Mucus Plug: This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.  A glob of mucus that has been plugging up your cervix during your pregnancy.  It has been keeping the baby safe and guarding against bacteria by not allowing anything into the uterus.  

    • Not all women will see or notice this, but losing your mucus plug, or the ‘bloody show’ means that baby is getting ready soon. You may notice a glob of stringy snot-looking discharge with a tinge of brown or red coloring (hence, bloody show).  Or you may just notice a larger amount of discharge than you’ve ever experienced.  Either way, make sure that hospital bag is all packed up!

  4.  Increase in abdominal and/or pelvic  pain:

    • As you get closer, you may notice an increase of pressure, pain, and/or cramping in your pelvis and abdomen.  

    • This is normal and just a sign that your body is stretching and getting ready to deliver a baby.  If the pain gets too severe or comes in rhythmic waves (contractions), make sure to call your doctor. 

  5. You have diarrhea: 

    • As your body prepares for baby, the muscles in the uterus start relaxing.  Your bowel muscles begin to do the same and this may cause diarrhea.  

    • If this happens to you, look at it as a good thing since this helps to rid your body of waste, meaning you may get though labor without pooping (yep, it can happen!).  But don’t worry!  If it still happens, it is a completely normal and even expected thing.  So no biggie!

  6. Your cervix begins to dilate (open) and efface (thin)

    • One of the signs that every women will have is when her cervix begins to dilate and efface.  Once you reach your 36 week (for most pregnancies), your OB/GYN will do a quick exam to see if you are dilated or effaced yet.  

    • Most women may only be 1-3 centimeters dilated before going into active labor.  Some women may not dilate at all prior. 

    • Family Education has some great pictures and more info on dilation and effacement. 

  7. Your water breaks

    • This is all called the rupturing of your membranes.  The bag of amniotic fluid that has been protecting and cushioning your baby ruptures, a small amount of liquid ecapes.  

    • Usually it is not a big gush, but rather a small, steady stream of liquid.  It actually feels like you’re peeing yourself, only you have no control over it at all.  While only 15-20% of women experience this sign of labor, once it happens, you can be assured that labor is imminent.  Though you still may be hours away from feeling contractions.  

    • Once your water breaks, your chances of getting an infection increases.  So no need to rush like a crazy person to the hospital, but you should be heading on your way soon. 

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