You may experience some signs to let you know labor is approaching. They may be noticeable several days or even weeks before your due date.
You may have one or more of the following signs:
- Braxton Hicks or false labor contractions prepare the uterus for labor and may cause some effacement and dilation of the cervix. During the last weeks of pregnancy, they may become more strong and regular. Sometimes it is difficult to know if these are true or false labor contractions. Refer to true and false labor information.
- Effacement (thinning) and dilation (opening) may start before the beginning of labor. A vaginal exam may be done at the office visit to check for effacement and dilatation.
- Emotional mood swings are common during pregnancy. As the due date approaches or passes, these feelings may increase.
- Leveling off or weight loss may be noticed in the last few days before labor begins. Some women lose as much as one to three pounds of body water.
- Lightening or “baby dropping” is the moving of the baby’s head into the pelvic. After the baby “drops” your abdomen appears lower. It is easier to breath and you may have less heartburn. As the baby moves down, you many feel pressure in your pelvic area, experience backaches and have to urinate more often. Lightening may occur two to six weeks before labor with your first pregnancy-but usually not until shortly before labor with your next pregnancies.
- Loose bowel movements can happen 24-48 hours before labor begins to clean out the lower bowel for the delivery.
- Nesting is a spurt of energy that some women may experience before labor beings. You may want to clean the house, do the wash, grocery shop, etc. Don’t tire yourself out. This is nature’s way of giving a woman extra energy for her labor.
- Vaginal secretions may increase to lubricate the birth canal before delivery.