You’ve seen it in the movies: the unsuspecting actress feels a sudden gush of water, she takes a dramatic taxi ride to the nearest hospital and as easy as 1, 2, 3 she gets to hold her newborn baby in her arms and lives happily ever after. But in reality a labor experience is a little less predictable than Hollywood makes it seem.
Although there isn’t ONE specific way to know that it’s really time, here are 5 signs to tell you’re in labor.
1 – Drop, Baby, Drop!
One of the most common signs that you’ll be going into labor soon is the lightening or “dropping” of the baby into the pelvis.
During lightening you’ll notice that your belly now sits lower on your abdomen and appears heavier and rounder than before. You’ll begin to feel more pressure surrounding your pelvis which of course increases frequency in urination.
The good news is that once your baby has dropped and settled in position you’ll experience less shortness of breath, which is a great relief!
2 – Hello Braxton Hicks
Another sign that your body is preparing for labor are Braxton Hicks Contractions.
These infrequent contractions can be experienced throughout your entire pregnancy, however, they tend to become stronger as you get close to your due date.
Unlike labor contractions they do not progress in frequency and only last a few seconds. These may increase their frequency at night but usually fade when you change positions unlike labor contractions which will not dissipate as easily.
3 – Bye-Bye Mucus Plug
An exciting sign that labor is near is the loss of your Mucus plug.
The Mucus plug is an accumulation of thickened Mucus that seals the Cervix tightly during pregnancy. This seal protects your fetus and prevents any outside elements from entering the womb.
The “plug” can look clear, bloody or pinkish and is also referred to as “Bloody Show”. You can expect to evacuate your Mucus plug 1 – 2 weeks prior to labor. Although it can happen all at once it’s common for it to come out gradually.
4 – Water Everywhere!
For nine months your baby grows inside your womb and is safely cradled in a perfect pod called the Amniotic Sac.
This well-cushioned pod is filled with a fluid called Amniotic Fluid. Your baby floats in the fluid and also gets nutrients, hormones and antibodies that help her development.
A huge sign that your body is beginning to experience labor is when your “Water breaks”.
When your amniotic sac naturally ruptures the amniotic fluid is expelled from your body in either a big gush or a steady trickle. No need to panic, this doesn’t mean that your baby will suddenly pop out, in fact, some women will labor for hours or even days after their water breaks.
If your water has broken, contact your doctor or midwife right away so they can monitor your progress and help guide you through the next steps.
5 – OMG, Contractions!
The most certain sign that you are in Active Labor are True Contractions.
True contractions compared to the Braxton Hicks, are strong, frequent and at times painful cramps that overpower your abdomen and lower back. These contractions intensify in both frequency, length and pain levels as your body prepares to give birth.
True Contractions are often described as severe menstrual cramps. Anytime you feel contractions, take note of the time and length. This will help you tell whether you are experiencing True Contractions (which will continue until your baby is born) or if they are only irregular Braxton Hicks Contractions.In reality every woman’s labor experience is different. Some of us go through every possible labor symptom in the books while others will only experience one. This is perfectly normal.
A few simple rules to follow are:
- Track everything you feel
- Keep your Doctor or midwife informed
- Trust your body and have your birth plan ready to welcome your much anticipated baby into your arms.