There can be some early changes in your body which may indicate that your body getting ready for labor. Many of these signs are painless and sometimes you don’t notice at all. They can begin days or weeks before you actually go into labor.
Signs and symptoms of early labor
Lightening is the term used when your baby drops inside your pelvis. You may feel increased pressure in your pelvis. This may happen a few weeks to a few hours before your labor begins.
Contractions are cramps and tightening that occur in your uterus to help move the baby through your birth canal. Contractions occur regularly and more often each time. Each one lasts about 30 to 70 seconds, and gets stronger and more painful until you deliver your baby. Contractions do not go away with movement. They start in your lower back and move to the front in your abdomen.
Effacement occurs when your cervix softens and thins, so it can easily open for the baby. Your primary healthcare provider will examine your cervix for effacement.
Dilation starts when the cervix starts to open. Your cervix can start to dilate several days before the beginning of true labor. Your cervix will be fully open and ready for delivery when it is dilated to 10 centimeters.
Towards the end of pregnancy, you can notice some increase in vaginal discharge. It may be pink, clear, or slightly bloody. This discharge may also be called bloody show. Bloody show is a mucus plug that forms and blocks your cervix during pregnancy. Bloody show is usually a sign that there is dilation and/or effacement of your cervix.
Rupture of membranes
Rupture of membranes is a sudden release of clear fluid from your vagina also known as “water breaking”. This is often painless and the women feel a large gush of water between her legs. Most women will go into labor within 24 hours of their water breaking. You should always contact your healthcare provider if you suspect that your water has broken.
You may have false labor signs, which are also called Braxton Hicks contractions. False labor is common and may happen several weeks or days before your actual labor. The contractions are not regular, and do not get closer together. The pain is usually mild, does not worsen, and is felt only in front. Braxton Hicks contractions may happen later in the day and stop after you change position, walk, or rest.
Here is a great video on the early signs of labor:
Contact your Healthcare provider:
- When your water breaks. Your healthcare provider will want to know what time this occurred and what color the water was. After this happens, you may need to be seen by your healthcare provider to have testing done.
- If you have pain in your lower back or abdomen.
- If you have bloody mucus or show.
- If you have questions or concerns about your condition or care.