It’s the event you’ve been happily (and nervously) anticipating for months: your baby’s birth! Here are 10 signs that labor is near and your baby’s birthday is almost here.
Many a pregnant mom has wondered how just how labor will feel, how long it will take and how to know whether it’s the real deal or just a false alarm. It’s hard to predict the answers to all those questions, since every birth is different, but knowing what labor is and what signs to look out for will help provide clues that it’s almost time to meet your baby!
What is labor?
Labor is the process of childbirth, starting with contractions of the uterus and ending with the delivery of the baby.
If you’re like a lot of pregnant moms, you’re probably wondering how you’ll know for sure that you’re in labor. Look out for these 10 signs of labor that tell you baby’s on the way
What I Wish I Knew Before I Gave Birth
Pre-labor: One hour to a full month or more before labor
1. Your baby “drops”
If you’re a first-time mom your baby will typically start to drop, or descend into your pelvis, a few weeks before labor begins (usually around two to four weeks before, but it can vary). In subsequent births, this “lightening” doesn’t often happen until you’re truly in labor. Your baby is getting into position to make his exit, ideally with the head down and low. You might feel like you’re waddling even more than you have been up until this point — and you may still be taking frequent bathroom breaks like you’ve probably been doing in third trimester because baby’s head is now pushing down on your bladder. The good news is that you have a bit more breathing room, since your little one is moving away from your lungs.
2. Your cervix dilates
Your cervix, too, is starting to prepare for birth: It starts to dilate (open) and efface (thin out) in the days or weeks before you deliver. At your weekly check-ups in the home stretch of your pregnancy, your provider may measure and track dilation and effacement via an internal exam. But everyone progresses differently, so don’t be discouraged if you’re dilating slowly or not at all yet.
3. You feel more cramps and increased back pain
Especially if this is not your first pregnancy, you may feel some crampiness and pain in your lower back and groin as labor nears. Your muscles and joints are stretching and shifting in preparation for birth.
4. Your joints feel looser
Throughout your pregnancy, the hormone relaxin has made your ligaments loosen up a little (it’s also responsible for your potential bouts of clumsiness this past trimester). Before you go into labor, you may notice that the joints all over your body feel a bit less tight and more relaxed. It’s just nature’s way of opening up your pelvis for your little passenger to make his way into the world.
5. You have diarrhea
Just as the muscles in your uterus are relaxing in preparation for birth, so too are other muscles in your body — including those in the rectum. And that can lead to diarrhea, that pesky little labor symptom you may well have experienced at other times during pregnancy. Though annoying, it’s completely normal; stay hydrated and remember it’s a good sign!
6. You stop gaining weight (or lose pounds)
Weight gain often levels off at the very end of pregnancy. Some moms-to-be even lose a couple of pounds! This is normal and won’t affect your baby’s birth weight. He’s still gaining, but you’re losing due to lower levels of amniotic fluid, more potty breaks, and perhaps even increased activity.
7. You feel extra tired … or you have an urge to nest
Wait a minute, is this the third trimester or the first? Between the active bladder and the exhaustion, sometimes you can feel like you’ve traveled backwards in time. That super-size belly, along with the smooshed bladder, can make it tough to get a good night’s sleep during the last days and weeks of pregnancy. Pile on those pillows and take naps during the day if you possibly can! That is, unless you’re feeling the opposite of fatigued: Some moms get a burst of energy as the birth-day nears, and can’t resist the compelling urge to clean an