While some women have definite signs of the onset of labor such as the water breaking or loss of your mucous plug, in reality the beginnings of labor are much more subtle and can begin even weeks before the baby is actually born. If you are like most women and are not sure what labor feels like, this list should help you identify whether labor has begun or not.
If your baby’s head has dropped to the floor of the pelvis, the baby is getting in position for the big day. This can occur as early as three weeks before your baby is actually due or can happen just days prior to labor. Very often, family members around you will notice that your belly has “dropped”. You should be able to tell yourself if you find that the pressure on your diaphragm has been replaced by increased pressure on your bladder; marked by even more frequent trips to the bathroom.
Increased vaginal discharge
If you notice that there is a sudden increase in the amount of vaginal mucus, you may be in the process of losing your mucous plug. For some women, this is not as obvious as they lose the plug over several days. For others, there is a distinct blood-tinged thick mucousy discharge that they notice during a regular bathroom visit.
Braxton-Hicks contractions are practice contractions for your body to help you prepare for the real thing. But if these contractions get much more intense and appear at regular intervals, with these intervals getting shorter over time, it might be time for your partner to grab the car keys. Increasing frequency of contractions is a sure sign that labor has commenced. For many women, labor begins as a slow yet consistent back-pain. This is a radiating pain which originates at the lower back making its way along the abdomen and groin area. This pain will soon give way to painful contractions with each one getting more painful than the last.
If you find yourself experiencing nausea or diarrhea without any apparent cause, it could very well be a result of increased prostaglandins which stimulate labor. This hormone is known to create digestive disturbances and is very often a sign of the onset of labor.
If you feel a warm gush of fluid down your legs, your amniotic sac has ruptured its membranes indicating that your baby is ready to make its way out. This is a definite sign of labor so make preparations to leave for the hospital the moment you experience it.
If you are among the lucky few that will begin dilating even before you sense your contractions, your doctor may pick them up at a weekly visit during your late pregnancy. With dilation, the opening of the cervix continues to grow and is measured in centimeters. If dilation has begun, you may be well on your way to labor. At 10 cm, a woman is considered fully dilated when she will be encouraged to begin the delivery by pushing.