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Signs of Going Into Labor

In the days leading up to your pregnancy, you may experience a few tell tale signs that you will be going into labor soon. There are about seven regular events in this process; lightening, effacement, dilation, release of the cervical mucus plug, nesting, rupture of membranes, and Braxton Hicks contractions. This is not always true for all women and you should note that each individual has a unique experience in what occurs during and leading up to labor. No one knows for certain what triggers labor but understanding the signs can help you prepare for what will occur leading up to you going into labor.

Lightening is one of the first signs that you may be going into labor. This is when you feel the baby move toward the lower pelvic area. Most women find it easier to breathe when this occurs, but many suffer from pelvic and lower back pain or discomfort. There are certain women who don’t notice it at all. This usually occurs a week or two before going into labor for first time mothers and maybe a day or two before labor for women who have already have children.

Effacement is the ripening of the cervix, or when it is thinning out to prepare for childbirth. You will not feel this sign of coming labor; instead you will see your doctor and have regular vaginal examinations to determine the rate at which it is thinning and how thin it is. Effacement is usually expressed as a percentage, meaning when you are 50% effaced, your cervical lining is half as thick as it originally was. You must be 100% effaced, or have thinned all the way out, in order to give a vaginal birth.

Dilation is the opening of you cervix and is measured from zero to ten centimeters by your doctor. These cervical changes may be very slow at first. For example, many women will be dilated 2-3 centimeters for a week or two before the actual labor process. The progress you make isn’t really a sign that you’re about to immediately begin labor, but rather that you will begin labor in a short time. When labor does begin though, expect a more rapid dilation process.

The release of the cervical mucus, also called the bloody show, is not always an indicator that you will start labor right away, more that it is coming within a week or two. When you are pregnant, a thick mucus plug forms to keep bacteria from entering the uterus. It is released as a thick, stringy, generally brown discharge that is sometimes is tinged with blood (hints: the bloody show).

Nesting is a burst of energy that a woman has while she is pregnant where she sets up her baby’s room or color coordinates its clothes or does something like that to prepare for the delivery. This can occur a couple of months before labor and childbirth, but often there is a sudden reestablished interest in the setting up the baby’s things where the mother spends a day or two before going into labor worrying about having everything ready for the baby. This is a good and natural process that every kind of mother goes through, it is just important to not wear yourself out right before the really hard task of delivering the baby happens.

The rupture of membranes
, commonly known as having your water break, occurs when the amniotic sac that is filled with fluids that cushions your baby, is broken or leaks. This generally means that you will start labor soon. If your water breaks before term (before 36 weeks), you should go and see your doctor immediately, because something could be wrong and you and your baby are more susceptible to getting infections.

Braxton Hicks
contractions are also common before you start labor and have real contractions. During the last few months of your pregnancy, your body starts preparing itself for childbirth with these types of contractions. They are generally painless at first and may grow to become more painful when the time to give birth grows nearer. When you first feel these, it is a sensation of your cervix contracting and retracting and again, it is generally painless at first and is just your body’s warm up for the real thing. When they do start to hurt, they may feel like real contractions, some differences between these and the real ones include that they are irregular and the pain level fluctuates. You also might be able to stop the Braxton Hicks contractions by changing positions or going for a walk; you won’t be able to stop the real contractions. Where pain is concentrated is another way to possibly determine if these are false labor pains. During real labor the pain is concentrated in the upper abdomen and radiated through the abdomen and lower back, while the pain in false labor is in the lower abdomen.

False alarms occur often for women during the last weeks of pregnancy because of the Braxton Hicks contracts and other things that happen. You should not feel embarrassed or frustrated by this if it happens to you. Think of it as a practice run if you do have a false alarm. It is better to be safe then sorry in these types of situations.

Comments »

  1. Wowwza says:

    Im shocked that ppl would be so rude to each other on a thread about labor and delivery. This is the first one I have read that is like this.

  2. sarah says:

    yes hi this is my first pregnancy and am havin twins next month,had alot of questions from day one an still do,so the best person to ask the questions is always your doctor,because thats the one u gonna trust with ur life an ur baby,so don’t be scared to ask anything.and they are the ones we go visit anyways 2 be on the safe side always go 4 ur check ups when u notice sumthing out of the ordinary just be alert aren’t they the ones who tell us if sumthing wrong and keeps us up 2 date well anywhoe be careful an keep urself a journal 2 monitor the weird events bye

  3. Sarah says:

    I wanted to comment on how “true” labor pains are described in this article.
    My whole labor with my son, my midwife kept asking me where I felt the pain and it was solely in my lower abdomen and lower back. She told me as labor progressed I would start to feel contractions across my entire uterus and upper abdomen – this NEVER happened. The whole time the only pain I felt was in my lower abdomen and lower back. It was still very intense and painful and it was definitely “true” and active labor.
    As someone else commented, every pregnancy and every labor is an individual experience and impossible to generalize and be 100% accurate.

  4. zag says:

    abortionist u should be so ashamed of ur self being a muslim and haveing trash like that 2 say ,i wonder how ur mom would feel if u tell her tht,u busterd bloody coward,dog,pig,nerd,just piss off.

  5. c says:

    Why are boys on a website about pregnancy?

  6. mom 2 b of no 4 says:

    Greetings of peace 2 all moms. Only u feel the special miracle grow inside u. I’m proud 2 b an ‘incubator’2 my miracle. Good luck wit all the uncomfies. Its not easy. But its worth it.I am 1 lucky muslim lady.

  7. Amber says:

    YES, you most certainly can have a period while being pregnany.. No need to be getting cocky with something you obviously don’t have the right facts for. I had a period the first 2 months with my first child.. & the dr said it happens nothin to worry about!!

  8. 2 years preg says:

    I have a 13 month old and i’m 37 weeks pregnant. I never felt contractions with my son and i have been feeling contractions and had a pretty odd leakage that didnt come from pee hole so kinda scared me…

  9. Mom of 4 says:

    I have had vaginal discharge but not sure if it’s my bf cum, cuz we had sex about 2 days ago or if it’s the mocus plug. I am about 36 wks n 3 days. I was wiping down there and i was noticing a gel like/clear sticky discharge. I had to wipe like 4x in order to clean entirely. thanks 😀

  10. lil momma says:

    im now 38 wks pg with my 2nd child i did not make it this far with my first one so every thing i feel its like being pg for the first time i had my first daughter at 26 weeks now she will be 4yrs soon she is healthy as hell 1 n a mil i guess nothing wronge with her but with this one ive been realy careful im hurting all the time and i just started spotting but its browinsh my husbands at work he is un reachable till 6pm i dnt know if i should go to the hospital or not i have my 3yr old wit me and no 1 to watch her i just have so many worries and dono wat to do

  11. babyblues says:

    i am 35weeks and am having sever lower pain i am on my thired kid but with my first two i did not go throw labor pains my first i was enduced my second i was in full blown labor and did not know it what can i do?

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