Labor doesn’t happen out of the blue. These seven early signs will tell you that your baby’s birthday is approaching.
- Baby heads south
A few weeks before you go into labor, your baby will move head-first into your pelvis. You’ll know that has happened when you can breathe more easily (because baby has shifted away from your lungs) but pee more often (baby’s head is pushing on your bladder.)
Your cervix dilates
Your cervix gets ready for birth by opening (dilating) and thinning (effacing). How will you know it’s happening? Your provider will do an internal exam to track it at your weekly check-ups.
More cramps and back pain
Especially if this is not your first pregnancy, you may feel some crampiness and pain in your lower back and groin as labor nears. (Ugh, right?) But that’s normal as your muscles and joints stretch and shift to get ready for birth.
Are you feeling a bit more loosey-goosey? That’s because the hormone relaxin has made all of your ligaments soften and loosen (and may account for your clumsiness lately!) It’s nature’s way of opening your pelvis to accommodate your little one.
Yes, it’s annoying, but unfortunately, normal. Just as the muscles in your uterus are relaxing in preparation for birth, so are other muscles in your body — including those in your rectum.. Stay hydrated and remember it’s a good sign!
- You stop gaining weight (or lose pounds)
Weight gain tends to level off at the very end of pregnancy. Some moms-to-be even lose a couple of pounds, much to the delight of your feet. This is normal and won’t affect your baby’s birth weight. He’s still gaining, but you’re losing due to lower levels of amniotic fluid, more potty breaks and even increased activity (see #7).
- Feeling extra-tired...or an urge to nest
Your super-size belly and squished bladder can make it hard (even impossible) to get a good night’s sleep during the last days and weeks of pregnancy. Pile on those pillows and take naps during the day if you possibly can! That is, unless you’re feeling the opposite of fatigued: Some moms get a burst of energy as birth-day nears, and can’t resist cleaning and organizing everything in sight. That’s okay; just don’t overdo it.
In the hours before labor begins, you’ll experience discharging of your mucus plug (bloody show), labor contractions and possibly your water breaking — all signs labor is hours away. Your doctor has probably told you when to call (for example, when contractions become regular, five minutes apart for at least an hour.) In the meantime, hang in there. Baby’s coming!