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Signs of Labor

Signs of labor can be different with each pregnancy. I have 5 children, and each of my labors started in different ways.

Early signs that indicate labor may be starting can be exciting, especially if you're close to your due date! Here is a list of things to be aware of as the birth of your child approaches.

Signs of Labor

  • Loss of mucous plug, or part of it.

  • Bloody Show, which indicates that the cervix is dilating and labor may start soon.

  • Stronger Braxton Hicks (a.k.a. False Labor)

  • Prodromal Labor (a.k.a. Pre-Labor)

  • Having to go to the bathroom more frequently, which is the body's way of naturally emptying in preparation for birth.

  • "Bag of Waters" Breaking

So how did these signs of labor help me to know that labor was about to begin with each of my babies?

Mucous Plug

With my first baby, I lost my mucous plug in the morning, and went into labor 8 hours later. I lost part, then went to the bathroom again, and lost some more, and then later some more. The dark brown coloring is old blood. If there is bright red, that’s fresh blood, and is often an indication that the cervix is dilating. If you see fresh blood, call your doctor or midwife.

I would have to say that with my first pregnancy, at the age of 28, I didn't have many early signs of labor. All I truly remember was losing the mucous plug in the morning, and going into labor in the afternoon.

With one of my other pregnancies, I lost my mucous plug, and walked around for 2 weeks before going into labor.

With my 4th and 5th pregnancies, I didn't lose my mucous plug until I was in labor, just before baby crowned.

When I think I've lost my mucous plug, or see early signs of labor, I just rest and sleep as much as possible, because I truly never know when it will happen.

Bloody Show

With my first, I didn’t notice any bloody show until I was in active labor. That’s when my cervix started dilating well.

With my 4th pregnancy, the only indication I had that labor would be starting soon was that I had bloody show in the morning. I went into labor that afternoon.

With my 5th, I noticed bloody show right when my contractions started

Braxton Hicks

With my first, I didn’t notice any false labor or Braxton Hicks, and when I actually went into labor, I didn’t even know if I was having contractions. I just knew that I could time “something”. It was more like an odd feeling in my belly, and it didn’t hurt at all, but it was labor.

With my 5th baby, I had LOTS of false labor. I probably had strong Braxton Hicks for 3 weeks before finally going into labor. However, I drank lots of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea during the end of the pregnancy, which helps to strengthen uterine contractions, and when I went into labor, I dilated from 4cm to 10 cm in one hour.

Prodromal Labor / False Labor

With baby #3, I had prodromal labor for 3 days. The way I knew it was not "real labor" was because every time I got up, the contractions would stop. Then when I would sit or lay down, the contractions started up again. That baby came fast too, so I figure that all of that pre-labor (which didn’t hurt, but was a bit uncomfortable) was working so that when I went into real labor, it would go fast

Emptying the Bowels

This is probably one of the easiest early signs of labor to recognize. My bowels started emptying the morning before labor started with each of my pregnancies except one. My bowel movements would become softer and more frequent.

This is one of the body's ways of preparing for the birth of your baby. You won’t need to worry about your bowels being full, and there's no need for an enema, which used to be a standard procedure in hospitals. Even if there is a little something left in the bowels, it’s easy for the doctor or midwife to wipe it away. Don't worry about it. Just push that baby out when you feel the urge to push

Bag of Waters Breaking

One of the clearest signs that labor may start soon (usually within 24 hours if you are close to your due date) is when the amniotic sac (a.k.a. bag of waters) ruptures.

My bag didn't break before I went into labor with any of my babies, so I can't say from personal experience how long it might take to go into labor. However, most moms whose water broke before labor started say that they went into labor within 24 hours of the bag breaking.

I have heard of moms whose bag of waters broke too soon, and with complete bed rest and close monitoring by their doctor or midwife, they were able to put off labor for weeks, so that baby could spend more time in the womb.

If your bag is leaking, or breaks, and you are not at 38 weeks yet, call your doctor or midwife immediately. There is medication that can be given to hold off contractions, if baby needs more time to develop in the womb.

Knowing what the early signs of labor are can give you peace of mind and confidence in knowing that when your body goes into labor, all of these things are God's way of preparing your body for birth.

I hope you have found this list of signs of labor to be helpful so that you know what to expect when you think you may having early signs of labor. When you experience any of these things, call your doctor or midwife and let them know. Then relax and get as much sleep as possible. Labor could start right away, or it could be weeks.

If you are not seeing early signs of labor, but you are over your due date, there are some things you can do to help to get things going. See this page for some ways to start labor naturally.

May you have a wonderful birth experience

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