You’re full term and wanting to help labor begin. You might be trying a lot of natural solutions with your midwife’s ok, but knowing the signs of approaching labor can help make things more comfortable and give you a way to make sure you and baby are ok. Desert Blossom Women’s Care knows what to look for when labor is on the way. Here are some of the signs:

One Hour to a Month or More Before (Pre-Labor)

A few weeks before birth, you might feel your baby “drop” into your lower pelvic cavity to get ready to leave, especially if this is your first. If you’ve already had a baby, you might not feel this engagement until you’re in labor.

While you may be tempted to know if your cervix is dilating and thinning in the weeks leading up to labor, routine cervical checks are usually not helpful before labor begins. The midwives will only perform a pre-labor cervical check if you request it. Cervical checks do not predict when you will go into labor, and are often uncomfortable. Trust that your body is preparing and will go into labor when the time is right.

You might feel more cramps and back pain because your muscles and joints are getting ready for birth. Your joints will also feel looser due to your hormones loosening your ligaments, which opens your pelvis. This relaxation is also to blame for your loose and frequent bowel movements, so stay hydrated.

Don’t worry if you stop gaining or even lose some weight. Your baby is still gaining strength as you enter labor.

You might feel a little more tired or an increased nesting urge. Due to your full bladder and larger belly, you may be more exhausted from a lack of sleep. Get as much rest as you can, and if you feel the urge to clean, do it without overdoing it.

Days and Hours Before (Early Labor)

Your mucus plug— which helps protect your uterus from bacteria— may come out. You might also have pinkish vaginal discharge known as a “bloody show.”

You’ll also feel stronger and more frequent contractions, which are a sign of early labor—except when they’re Braxton Hicks contractions. You can tell your contractions are real when they get stronger, don’t go away when you change positions, and progress in intensity and frequency instead of subsiding over time. Water labor can help ease contraction pains while you’re laboring under your midwife’s guidance.

Your water might break. It could be a slow leak or a big gush, like in the movies. While many women worry about their water breaking out of the blue in public, it actually only happens before labor contractions begin about 10% of the time. Chances are you will be well into active labor before your water breaks.

When to Call Your Midwife

Your midwife can help you identify the signs that your body is getting ready to go into labor, and you’ll be seeing them a lot more—odds are you won’t miss any of the important signs. Check in when your contractions are becoming consistent, longer, or painful. Don’t worry about calling your midwife outside of office hours; we’re in the baby business, so we understand. Give your midwife a call if:

  • You experience any bright red bleeding or discharge, rather than brown or pink
  • Your water breaks, especially if the fluid is green or brown—that might be a sign of meconium
  • You experience blurred or double vision, a severe headache, or sudden swelling—these can be symptoms of preeclampsia

Gynecology Care from Desert Blossom Women’s Care

Whether you’re preconception or postpartum, thinking of an unmedicated birth or a C-section, or have questions about pregnancy that you’re afraid to ask, you need gentle care from experts. Desert Blossom Women’s Care’s certified nurse-midwives are specially trained to give you the gynecology and pregnancy advice that you need and work with your healthcare team. Contact us to schedule your appointment in southern Arizona.

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