Early signs & symptoms of labor: What to watch for

Free photos of Pregnant

Many people feel uncertain about when the right time is to go to the hospital for childbirth–particularly if they are not positive that labor has started. As you near the end of your pregnancy, it is vital to be able to tell the contrast between pseudo labor and real labor, as well as to discern the transition from initial labor to strenuous labor.

This article gives an overview of the indicators for labor, the distinctions between false labor, genuine labor, and Braxton Hicks contractions, and the signs to look out for in the last few weeks of your pregnancy. Following these rules, along with the guidance of your physician or obstetrician, can give you increased assurance about when to go to the hospital when having contractions.

True vs. False Labor

As your childbirth date nears, it can be stressful, complicated, and daunting to ascertain if the contractions you are feeling are false labor or real labor. Keep in mind that the body is intuitively aware of what to do; it will provide you with the imperative details – you just need to take notice and discover how to read the indications.

When you’re trying to determine whether you’re in true labor, ask yourself:

How far along am I? As your delivery date approaches, it is increasingly likely that you are going into true labor. Nevertheless, if during your pregnancy you have any sensations that you are uncertain of, make sure to tell your physician or midwife.

How strong are my contractions? You may have a feeling of tightness or unease in your uterus as it undergoes “practice” contractions when experiencing false labor. These spasms generally do not cause pain and will stop when you change your position or move around. When experiencing genuine labor, you are likely to experience some form of discomfort, which could be located in the back, abdomen, and/or pelvic area.

How frequent/far apart are my contractions? As your labor progresses, you’ll notice that your contractions are occurring at shorter intervals. You can expect the occurrences to be frequent, and you can plan for them in advance. If it isn’t the authentic experience, you may notice slight contractions that are not organized in any type of order.

How intense are my contractions? The tightening of abdominal muscles that is typical with Braxton Hicks contractions usually doesn’t cause discomfort. It will still be possible for you to take a stroll, converse, and slumber during these times. The initial twinges of real labor begin gently but become increasingly strong as time passes. These contractions will hurt, and the pain will increase.

How long do the contractions last? Contractions in false labor typically don’t last long, usually between 15 to 45 seconds. Accurate muscle contractions may begin abruptly but will become increasingly more extended as your childbirth advances.

Do the contractions change when I move around? If you experience contractions that are not true labor, they may subside by changing your position or being more active. Your contractions will persist and get increasingly intense, no matter what ideas you have.

Are there any other indications I’m in labor, such as backache or my water breaking? If you are not experiencing any other indication of labor, it is likely not the actual labor but those practice contractions let you know that you are closer to it!

Is my pregnancy considered high-risk? It is best to alert your medical practitioner if you have any pre-existing health concerns or are expecting multiples prior to labor. Let them know if you experience contractions or any other labor signs, particularly before the 37-week mark.

You’ll know it’s time to get ready to go to the hospital when your contractions are:

  • Getting longer.
  • Getting stronger.
  • Getting more frequent and closer together

Signs That Labor Is Coming Soon but Hasn’t Started Yet

Typical maternity spans anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks from the time of your last menstrual cycle, causing your body to start preparing for the birth during the latter weeks of the 30th week. The following changes don’t necessarily mean it’s time to go to the hospital, but they are signs that the big day is approaching:

Dilation and Other Cervical Changes

During cervical examinations, it may be possible to note some of the primary changes your body is going through in the lead-up to childbirth. As you approach your due date, the cervix may become more pliant and start to thin out. These modifications make it feasible for your cervix to gradually enlarge, a process that is essential for your baby to be born.

At roughly the 36th week of pregnancy, medical personnel such as your OB-GYN or midwife may assess your cervix and the location of your baby. It is critical to take note that everyone experiences these transition stages at a distinct speed. The speed of progress may slowly build up, eventually reaching a rapid rate right before childbirth or the other way around.

It’s okay to start labor without a lot of progress as yet. When your labor starts, the opening of your cervix will gradually increase until you are 10 cm dilated, which indicates that you are completely opened. Full dilation is what’s needed to start delivery.

Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks are gentle contractions that occur inconsistently and increase in number during the last part of pregnancy. It is possible to have Braxton Hicks contractions long before any other indications of labor are present. As your due date approaches, contractions tend to become more powerful and occur more often. But is this cramping a sign of labor? Contractions are not experienced in the same way as regular cramps. We will discuss this further down. And not everyone notices Braxton Hicks contractions.

Aches, Pains, and Looser Joints

During your pregnancy, the hormone called relaxin will cause the ligaments in your body to relax, especially the ones in your pelvis. This can enable you to extend and contract during childbirth. However, you could encounter distress or agony in your pelvic region. As the due date draws near, it is natural to experience some looseness in your hips and lower back, particularly. Because of this, the muscles surrounding the joints now require more effort to keep those structures secure.

Stomach Issues

It is common for pregnant women to experience stomach issues. You may wonder if increased nausea in your third trimester is indicative of impending labor. To an extent, this is true. Your infant is still continuing to develop and is having to struggle for room in your abdomen with any other items that are present. As a result, you may experience indigestion and heartburn. These issues may remain with you for an extended period of time, ranging from weeks to months.

At the conclusion of pregnancy, a spell of diarrhea might show that labor will happen within the following 24 to 48 hours. But those numbers can vary.


During cervical exams, doctors may investigate the position of the newborn. As you move nearer to the time of your delivery, your baby will probably take up residence in your lower abdomen zone, which is described as the baby “dropping” or lightning.

First-time mothers may experience the process of lightening two to four weeks before giving birth. Women who have had babies before may not experience a decrease in weight in the abdomen until near the time of delivery.

The position of your infant may induce intense strain on the muscles of your pelvic region as well as your bladder. You might have grown accustomed to peeing frequently as a sign of pregnancy. However, a far more common occurrence of urination can be a sign that your labor is on its way.

However, lightning sometimes makes it feel easier to breathe. There is also the potential to reduce issues associated with heartburn because the pressure on the stomach and internal organs would be decreased.

The 411 Rule for Active Labor

Your doctor or midwife might suggest that you utilize a certain procedure for recording the span of your contractions to assist you in determining if it is time to go to the hospital. The principle that is usually followed with these approaches is to record the frequency, duration, and consistency with which contractions occur.

The popularly-known “411 Rule” suggested by doulas and midwives suggests expecting mothers should go to the hospital when their contractions have become consistent 4 minutes apart, with each contraction persisting for at least one minute, and they have followed that same timing for at least sixty minutes.

You may also hear about the 511 rule. The only variation between the protocols for 511 and 411 is the first figure, which signalizes the interval of minutes between contractions. Based on your medical history, particularly if you are a previous childbirth mother, your physician may suggest that you follow the safer 511 rule.

The First Signs That Labor May Be Starting

The evidence indicating labor is near can be different from person to person, yet there are often similarities when labor actually sets off.

You start to experience real contractions.

Your body utilizes uterine contractions to assist with the repositioning of your baby in order for you to push your infant out. The opening stage of childbirth is usually described as when real contractions start to take place.

What do contractions feel like?

The beginning of labor is often marked by contractions that are mild and come and go at unpredictable times, potentially continuing for hours or days. As you make progress toward the active stage of labor, real contractions will become more intense. They can be likened to menstrual spasms or sharp abdominal discomfort possibly caused by a gas build-up or a digestive disorder.

The principal way to differentiate between genuine contractions and Braxton Hicks contractions is that typical contractions appear at uniform periods of time, which become more and more frequent as time goes by. You can keep track of your labor contractions either through an application on your phone or by simply marking down the start time and length of each contraction on a piece of paper with a stopwatch.

You feel consistent pain in your belly and lower back.

When contractions begin, you will experience pain in your stomach area. Additionally, the weight of the infant’s head will likely cause strain on your lumbar region. So is this back pain a sign of labor? It can be. As labor begins, discomfort may come in surges progressing from your back to your abdomen.

You lose your mucus plug and experience a “Bloody Show”

What does losing your mucus plug mean? A build-up of mucus, known as the mucus plug, forms in the entrance to the cervix as a form of protection. As the cervix begins to open up, the plug may slip out in the form of discharge prior to labor beginning.

Vaginal secretion, which includes this type of mucus, can be denser and may appear to be either pink or red. The cervix undergoing changes leads to bleeding. When there is a simultaneous release of mucus and blood, it’s known as a “bloody show.” Bear in mind that the mucus plug may become detached prior to labor onset, but this can also vary, dependent on when your cervix begins to thin out and open.

Your water breaks.

While expecting, your infant is sheltered by amniotic fluid, allowing them to stay secure from bacteria. At the start of the birth process, the sac containing the amniotic fluid often bursts. Fluid may unexpectedly flow from your vagina, either all of a sudden or gradually, but it is not always apparent. If you believe that the amniotic sac has ruptured, it is recommended that you contact your medical team or go to the hospital. It may take your baby to put pressure on you or have contractions before your amniotic sac ruptures.

When to Call a Doctor

If you cannot make up your mind if it is time for labor or if you suspect it is too soon, contact your doctor or midwife.

If you’re pregnant, always call your healthcare provider if you:

  • Start bleeding (especially if it’s bright red and a large amount).
  • Notice that your baby isn’t moving as much as they normally do.
  • Have an increased amount of discharge or fluid (especially if it is brown, green, or mixed with blood).

Signs of Preterm Labor

If you have these indications, get medical help immediately. An indication of preterm labor is experiencing contractions before 37 weeks of gestation. The contractions may initially appear as just a feeling of being constricted, yet become agonizing and come more continually (more than five an hour). Other signs of preterm labor that can occur before 37 weeks include:

  • Vaginal bleeding (bright red blood).
  • A sudden gush of clear, watery fluid from your vagina.
  • Dull or sharp backache (may come and go or get progressively worse).
  • Intense pelvic pressure and cramping (which can feel like menstrual cramps) may radiate to your groin and thighs.
  • Nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and an overall feeling of being unwell.

If you are experiencing any indicators of impending premature birth, contact your medical practitioner without delay. If you are unable to make contact with your physician or obstetrician, it is imperative to visit the ER.

Bringing a baby into the world earlier than expected can be dangerous for both the mother and her child. The sooner it’s identified, the better. In certain situations, preterm labor may be prevented or delayed, which can decrease the dangers.


Happier Healthier Life