Real labor will progress from just a twinge of discomfort to serious, grab-your-partner’s-hand-and-squeeze pain that lasts for a few good seconds. True contractions as signs of labor usually begin in your back and wrap around to your stomach, while Braxton-Hicks feel more centered in front. You’ll know your body is getting ready for labor when contractions occur at regular intervals and become more frequent, gradually lasting longer and steadily feeling more intense.
In the days before your baby makes her big arrival, you might notice a “lightening” as one of the classic signs of labor. The weight of your pregnancy will seem to fall into your pelvis, making it a little easier to breathe without all that pressure under the ribcage. Of course, while that might relieve some discomfort, it can add a new issue the feeling of walking with a bowling ball between your legs.
Feeling like you need to run to the toilet every half an hour to relieve a rumbling tummy might be another common sign of labor. While loose bowels are certainly uncomfortable, they’re part of nature’s quest to make room for your little one as he comes into the world. Diarrhea is a sign that a trip to the hospital or birthing center is in your near future.
For many women, labor is preceded by one of the most classic signs of labor: her water breaking. This gush of amniotic fluid often occurs at night, misleading many to believe they’ve wet the bed. For most women, the gush is more of a trickle than the serious waterfall often depicted by Hollywood!
If your water breaks and you haven’t had contractions or don’t start having them within a few hours, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Amniotic fluid protects your baby from infection without it, your child could be at risk if she isn’t delivered soon.
Thank goodness this is one of the more emotional signs of labor. In the days before your little one arrives, you might find yourself with the overwhelming urge to tidy up, organize and purchase goodies for the new addition to your family. This instinct is called “nesting,” and not all women experience it (although chances are you’ll find yourself standing in the nursery, wondering if you’re truly ready for this, at least once).