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Signs of Labor

There are many signs to watch for indicating you are nearing labor. Some are possible signs while others positively indicate labor has started.

Positive Signs of Labor

If you experience any of these, go to the hospital immediately and remember all of your labor planning!

Progressive contractions - These are contractions that occur closer together, longer in duration and more intense over the course of several hours. True labor contractions will continue whether you are active, walking, resting, or even sleeping.

Bag of waters ruptures - The amniotic membrane may break at any time during the course of labor. If this is your first sign of labor you should come to the hospital even if you are not experiencing contractions. Your bag of waters may break as a large gush of fluid or a slow leak of fluid. If you are unsure if your water has broken please contact your healthcare provider for instructions.

Changes in the cervix - True labor contractions cause the cervix (lower part of the uterus) to efface, dilate and move the baby down through the pelvis.

Possible Signs of Labor

These signs mean you might be entering labor. Some of these possible signs are:

  • Change in pressure - the baby drops lower in the pelvis causing more pelvic and bladder pressure but easing pressure on the lungs.
  • Braxton-Hicks Contractions - these are mild, irregular and usually go away with a change in activity. They are "practice contractions" for your body
  • Mucous Plug - a thick stringy piece of mucous now plugs the opening to the uterus. This mucous may be dislodged causing a blood-tinged discharge from the vagina close to the end of pregnancy
  • Burst of Energy - a hormone surge that encourages you to cook, clean or in other ways prepare your home for the new arrival. This can occur late in pregnancy or not at all
  • Gastro-intestinal Disturbance - Many women will experience nausea and often loose stools at the beginning of labor
  • Low, Dull Backache - As the baby moves further down in the uterus, many women experience a backache that just won't go away

You Should Come to the Hospital If:

  • When the contractions are 5 minutes apart with your first baby or 7 minutes apart with subsequent babies
  • If your bag of waters breaks
  • If you are unable to walk or talk while experiencing contractions
  • If you are uncomfortable or unsure being at home
  • If you experience any of the danger signs of pregnancy

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