Early Signs Of Labor
Early Signs of Labor
Knowing the early signs of labor can empower you to make the best decisions about whether or not it’s time to head for the hospital. Many women, even those who have already had children, aren’t sure what it will feel like when they go into labor. It can be difficult to tell if what you’re experiencing is the real deal. Look for some of the following signs, all indicators of impending labor.
Diarrhea – your body is pretty smart, and will attempt to evacuate the bowels to prepare for birth. With all that pushing going on, the emptier your bowels are – the better. Enough said. So, don’t worry if you are experiencing some loose BMs, but do call your doctor if the symptoms are severe enough to cause pain or dehydration.
Nesting - One of the early signs of labor that your doctor might not tell you about is what’s known as “nesting.” Nesting involves no physical symptoms, but is a psychological state wherein the expectant mother is almost compulsively driven to clean, organize, and otherwise get ready for the new arrival. This is a very natural thing, and can be seen in the animal world as females about to give birth frantically clean and repair their nest or burrow in preparation for their coming offspring.
Many women report that their nesting instincts kicked in to overdrive during the final 24 hours before they went in to labor. If, despite discomfort and exhaustion, you find yourself neurotically scrubbing, mending, and arranging, you may be closer to bringing home your new baby than you think! Clean all you want, but stay away from chemicals and kitty litter – and don’t overdo it. Also, use some of that energy to double check that you’ve packed your hospital bag. Make sure to grab a bite as well; remember that once labor does kick in, your digestive system will shut down and you won’t be able to eat anything until after you’ve given birth. Labor can last for a very long time, and you’re going to need your strength!
Engagement – The common term for engagement is “dropping.” This is when your little one descends lower into the pelvic area, readying him or herself for a trip through the birth canal. When this happens, you might feel a release of pressure on your bladder as well as some relief of heartburn and indigestion. You will likely feel a new sensation of bearing down on your pelvis and hips. If you’ve had previous pregnancies, engagement often comes very shortly before labor begins. If you are pregnant for the first time, though, engagement can occur much earlier and so should only be considered a sign of impending labor if experienced in conjunction with other early signs of labor.
Mucus Plug - While experts have yet to give us a more palatable name for it, the mucus plug, or “bloody show” is a normal part of pregnancy. Your body has created a handy little “plug” that prevents dangerous materials from entering the womb. This plug often falls out in preparation for labor. If you pass a thick red or brown glob, labor could be forthcoming.
Contractions – Even in the preliminary stages of labor, you’ll feel cramping that feels somewhat similar to menstrual cramps. If you are going into labor, these cramps will start to come more frequently and eventually go from being uncomfortable to being very painful. If you are experiencing contractions at regular intervals that last longer each time and are increasing in intensity, congratulations! You are going to be a mom in the near future.