As the due date approaches, many women start to worry that they will not know when they are in labor, or that they will make the mistake that they are having contractions which turn out to be false labor. All of this worry can cause a great deal of stress as that day looms closer, so understanding the signs and symptoms that labor has started, or is getting close to happening, can help to ease some of the worry.
Starting at any time from a few days before to the beginning of contractions, a “bloody show” is often noticed. This discharge is caused by capillaries in the cervix that burst as it begins to dilate in preparation for the birth. At this time, the mucous plug that has protected the baby during pregnancy from infection may dislodge. The color of the discharge can be clear, with a slight tinge of brown or pink. If there is a great deal of bright red discharge, a doctor should be consulted right away.
Lightening occurs when the baby drops down into the pelvis in preparation for the delivery. It can happen a few days or just hours before labor starts. The woman may feel that she is able to breathe easier now that there is more room for her lungs to expand, however the added pressure on the bladder can lead to more frequent urination.
A low, dull backache that may come and go can indicate that labor is about to start.
Diarrhea, nausea, and cramps
As the hormonal changes begin to occur with labor, the body will respond by causing upset stomach, cramping and nausea. This can happen just before or as labor starts.
Sometimes difficult to distinguish from the Braxton-Hicks contractions that may have been common through the prior weeks, contractions will become more regular and intense as true labor begins.
It is important to remember that all women feel the same way before labor begins, however instinct will always kick in when it is time to decide whether labor has started or not.