According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the start of labor is shrouded in mystery as early labor signs generally aren’t noticed, especially by first-time moms. It’s certainly not anything like what you see on television, with a sudden onset of painful contractions, a little pushing and out pops baby. In truth, no one knows exactly what causes the start of labor. You may have false signs of labor, like Braxton Hicks contractions, long before real labor begins. You’ll know when baby is ready without a doubt because the one sure sign is consistent painful uterine contractions, but there are some early warning signs that will help you mentally prepare for birth.
Early Labor Signs
Lightening. You’ll feel the baby drop lower in your womb as one of the first early labor signs. This can happen anytime between a few weeks to several hours before you go into labor. What’s happening is your baby’s head is settling deeper in the uterus and getting ready to exit through the birth canal. The breathlessness you felt throughout the third trimester will ease as pressure comes off your lungs, but that relief will be replaced by a more frequent urge to urinate because baby’s head may be resting on your bladder.
Nausea and Stomach Upset. You may have celebrated the end of the queasiness associated with morning sickness earlier in your pregnancy only to find it boomerangs back around when you’re close to delivery. Health professionals suspect hormonal changes are another one of the early labor signs, and they bring about nausea, indigestion, vomiting and flu-like symptoms about a day or so before labor begins. You may also experience diarrhea and more frequent bowel movements within 48 hours of the onset of labor. Sutter Health says this is your body cleansing the lower bowel in preparation for childbirth.
Energy Burst. One of the most overlooked early labor signs is a sudden gush of energy. It’s called nesting, and unlike the usual exhaustion and sleepiness you’ve been feeling in the third trimester, suddenly you’ll have an urge to get your environment ready for the new addition to your family. The Mayo Clinic reports that the nesting instinct is usually strongest just before delivery, but cautions you not to overexert yourself.
Early Labor Signs – The Conclusion
Water Break. Your baby lives cushioned inside a fluid-filled membrane known as the amniotic sac. Another of the early sign of labor is that it can rupture a few hours before labor, says the American Pregnancy Association. You may experience it as a sudden, uncontrollable gush of a close-to-clear liquid or a slower oozing. The association says only 10 percent of women get the gush. You should know, however, that if you’re not at or close to term, your water breaking can pose a serious threat to your baby. Seek medical attention immediately. Never attempt to plug the leaking. Be ready for baby. Let these signals be your warning signal that your time is near. Have your bag packed if you plan to deliver in a hospital. Keep all your emergency notes and numbers on hand. It’s important to stay closely connected with your loved ones and your healthcare provider as you begin to experience early labor signs.