HOW DO YOU TELL LABOR IS A FEW DAYS AWAY?
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How do you feel right before labor starts? How do you feel 24 hours before labor? What are the signs of labor approaching? What are the signs labor is 24-48 hours away?
It’s not always crystal clear, however, sometimes there are some signs more than others that you can rely on!
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Signs labor is 24-48 hours away:
- Loss of mucus plug
- Bloody show
- Weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Back pain
- Ripened cervix
- Water breaking
Let’s dive in to what each of these signs means:
Loss Of Mucus Plug
A mucus plug is something your body creates from the moment of conception to protect your baby from harmful germs and bacteria. It is literally a plug on the end of your cervix that’s made of mucus, charming, I know.
You might notice losing this but you might not. Some women have seen it drop into the toilet, some have wiped it away after peeing and some have felt it in their underwear.
My first baby, I never noticed a mucus plug. With my second baby, I distinctly remember losing my mucus plug the evening before my water broke at 2am. With my third, I actually lost my mucus plug at 35 weeks and was CONVINCED I was going to have a very early baby.
After doing a lot of research, I discovered that you can, in fact, lose your mucus plug more than once. Your body will just regenerate it if it comes out too early!
Sometimes people use the terms “mucus plug” and “bloody show” interchangeably but they’re slightly different.
The mucus plug is transparent and contains little to no blood while the bloody show is mucus tinged with red or brown blood.
If you have a bloody show, it means your cervix is preparing for labor!
Don’t get too excited, it’s not a lot of weight loss. It can be anywhere from 1-3 pounds of water weight that you shed in the days before you go into labor.
Increased Vaginal Discharge
Once you get closer to labor, you might notice your vaginal discharge becoming thicker or changing color.
Nesting or Being Extremely Fatigued
Those last few days before you go into active labor can be confusing. Either your body will be trying to conserve energy for childbirth or you’ll be getting in some last minute nesting!
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had a sudden burst of energy at 37 weeks. I packed my hospital bag, cleaned the house and then my water broke at 6am the next morning. Pay attention to energy levels!
This happens because your muscles are getting an extra dose of relaxin leading up to birth. This means that ALL your muscles get it, including your rectum muscles.
But, this is a good thing because it helps your body void all unnecessary contents before you give birth!
Ie; no pooping during delivery!
It can still happen though- just to warn you. It’s hard not to worry about it, but try not to. All the nurses that will help you have seen it before, they’re absolutely professional and will whisk it away before anyone can see it!
If you start having lower back pain and a crampy feeling, that can be a sign that labor has started or is approaching. This is because your muscles and joints are shifting for birth!
How do you tell the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and real contractions?
- Irregular and infrequent, lasting only 15-30 seconds.
- Subside if you change position.
- Consistently get stronger and more frequent.
- They don’t go away if you stand up or change position.
- Last about 30-70 seconds each.
By this point you’ll be seeing your doctor a lot. They’ll be checking each time to see if you’re dilated at all! If you’re dilated past 3cm that can mean you may be going into labor soon.
To give you some hope though, if you aren’t dilated yet, here’s what happened with my third baby:
I saw my doctor around 9am on my baby’s actual due date and she checked me. She laughed and said I wasn’t even 1cm so I shouldn’t hold my breath over the baby coming any time soon. So I left thinking it was going to be a week or two.
I went into labor at 2:30 that day and had my baby at 6:16! You never know.
RELATED: How To Have A Faster Labor
It shocked me to learn that only 15% of women have their water break before labor begins. If it does happen, it means you’re going into labor, yay!
My water broke with 2 out of 3 babies before labor started. My daughter, hours before and my son about 20 minutes. With my 3rd, my water broke during active labor.
RELATED: Epidurals- Should You Get One?
What Is False Labor?
It may be false labor if the contractions:
- come less than 4 times an hour
- aren’t regular
- don’t get painful or stronger
- come and go depending on your position
When To Go To The Hospital For Labor
As a general rule, you should head to the hospital when your contractions are about 4 minutes apart, last 45-60 seconds and stay that way for an hour. However, if this isn’t your first baby, things may move more quickly.
If you’re at all unsure, contact your healthcare provider.
With my first baby, I went in WAY too early because my water broke but I didn’t go into active labor. I ended up being induced because I was Group B strep positive.
With my second baby, my water broke and my labor progressed extremely quickly- I think I stayed home for an hour from the first contraction till I left for the hospital.
With my third baby, my water didn’t break. I was in active labor from the very first contraction – there was no early labor phase for me. I left for the hospital about 15-20 minutes after my first contraction and I’m SO happy I did because my baby was born less than 4 hours later.
I tell you this to show that not only is every woman different, so is every labor! What happened with your first or second baby may not happen with subsequent babies!
Am I Going Into Labor? Here’s How To Tell:
Signs of labor include:
- Strong and regular contractions.
- Your water breaking.
- Bloody mucus discharge (bloody show).
Always, ALWAYS call your healthcare provider no matter what the time of day if you’re unsure- they WANT you to call!
When I was googling signs of labor, I was always looking for something that would definitively tell me it was happening. I was also desperately wishing for it to start, as I’m sure you are.
It’s SO HARD to wait the last few weeks! And while I wished for labor to start at the end of every pregnancy I’ve ever had-
Looking back, I wish I would have slowed down and tried to enjoy the last little while before my new one was Earth side.
If it’s your first pregnancy, slow down and really soak up the moments that you’re truly yourself and cherish the time you have left to do whatever you want.
It’s a subsequent pregnancy, enjoy your last moments with your other children before a new baby takes up a lot of your time. I know it’s hard, but try.
I’m wishing you so much luck and love on your journey. Wishing you a positive labor and delivery momma ❤
Looking for more helpful tips on labor and delivery?
- How To Heal FAST Postpartum
- DIY Padsicles For Postpartum Relief
- How To Heal Quickly After A C-Section
- Best Tips For A Natural Birth
- How To Induce Labor
- Epidurals- Should You Get One?
- How To Breastfeed (like you’ve done it before)