Are you experiencing back pain, cramps, or a sudden urge to nest? If so, labor may be closer than you think. Pay attention to signs and symptoms that may indicate that labor is approaching.
After 40 long weeks of pregnancy I was ready for it to be over. During those last few weeks, I would look at every twinge as a possible sign that labor is coming. While I may not have recognized it at the time, I experienced a few distinct symptoms in the days leading up to each of my deliveries.
However, not all women experience the same signs and symptoms.
“Each labor is unique,” says Sutter Health. “No one can predict exactly what your individual labor will be like, or when it will begin. However, prior to the onset of labor, you will notice some signs that are nature’s way of telling you that labor is approaching. If you are not sure, call your physician or midwife to discuss your labor signs.”
Remember that your due date is only an estimate. While about 80 percent of women deliver between 37 and 42 weeks, according to Parents Magazine, about 11 percent deliver prematurely.
While certain signs and symptoms could indicate that labor is near, there is no way to pinpoint exactly when your baby will arrive.
What the Experts Say
Baby could come at any time. Be prepared by watching for signs that often appear in the days leading up to labor. Here’s what some experts have to say about pre-labor signs.
“Although each woman’s experience of labor differs and there are no hard and fast rules as to what will happen when, there are signs that indicate that labor is likely to start either immediately or within a matter of days. One of the classic signs that labor isn’t far away is a “bloody show”, when you lose the plug of mucus that has protected your baby during pregnancy.”
Pregnancy Day by Day, Maggie Blott
“Even before you experience the symptoms of actually going into labor, if you know what to look for, you could notice your body signaling that labor is only weeks or days away. Listen to your body, but reassure yourself that labor is impossible to miss – you’ll know when it’s happening!”
The Pregnancy Encyclopedia, Dr. Chandrima Biswas
“As childbirth nears, your body starts to change subtly, and your inner world begins to shift, too. You may find that you’re more introspective and your emotions are even more intense. Your dreams may be more vivid, and your moods may swing more easily.”
The Whole Pregnancy Handbook, Joel Evans, Robin Aronson
“Signs and symptoms of approaching labor include lightening, increased Braxton-Hicks contractions, backache, bloody show, spontaneous rupture of the membranes, diarrhea, spurt of energy, and weight loss.”
Maternity, Newborn, and Women’s Health Nursing, Susan A. Orshan
“Towards the end of your pregnancy, you will see your doctor or midwife more often, and she might check to see if your cervix is dilated. But don’t get too excited if she says you’re “a few centimeters.” You can be two centimeters dilated for weeks without getting any contractions.”
8 Signs of Labor to Watch Out for, Lee Schofield
Common Signs of Impending Labor
Dropping: Dropping, also known as lightening, is when your baby settles lower in the pelvis. Many women notice that they are carrying low, which typically indicates that the baby is head down and in prime position for delivery.
While dropping does not necessarily mean that you’re in labor, it does indicate that the baby is coming very soon.
Nesting: While some women nest throughout their pregnancies, for most the nesting instinct typically kicks in at the tail-end of pregnancy. Nesting refers to the overwhelming urge to clean, organize, and essentially prepare the home for baby.
Back Ache: Back ache, especially back pain accompanied by contractions, is a common sign that labor will soon come. In pre-labor or early labor, you may experience persistent lower back pain along with pre-menstrual-like cramps. Sometimes the pain may radiate from the back to the front.
Diarrhea: While diarrhea can be caused by anxiety, food poisoning, and various sicknesses, diarrhea that occurs near your due date is often associated with impending labor.
If the diarrhea is accompanied with contractors or bloody show, there is even a higher likelihood that labor is near.
Bloody Show: One of the most prominent signs that labor is approaching within days is the presence of bloody show.
As the cervix opens and softens, you may discover spotting or bloody mucus (mucus plug) when you wipe after going to the bathroom. Bloody show in combination with other symptoms is a definite sign of pre-or-early labor.
Some women have no signs at all before labor begins, while others have a variety of symptoms that they may not comprehend as being early labor signs. Look at the signs you’re experiencing to determine if it’s nearly baby time or if you’re experiencing normal symptoms of pregnancy.