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5 Signs That You're Going into Labor

April 13, 2022
If you’re getting close to the big day, you may be trying to rely on those powerful maternal instincts to give you some clues that labor is coming. During pregnancy, especially your first pregnancy, it can be hard to distinguish a true sign of labor, and something else your body is doing as a result of pregnancy. Here are 5 signs that you’re going into labor.
1. REAL contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions will likely get stronger as you get closer to labor and your body is preparing for labor, but they aren’t kidding when they say you’ll KNOW the difference when real contractions hit. I was induced for medical reasons early with my first child and never experienced real contractions, but with my second it was undeniable, and my instincts knew those were real. The difference was the intensity and duration. The real contractions started in the middle of the night and, at first, didn’t feel too much different from the Braxton Hicks I’d been having, but they slowly and gradually got worse – more painful and more intense. The pressure was huge, and nothing relieved them. This was two days before my due date, and I just knew they were real (despite having thought this before and going into labor and delivery, only to be sent home). When you notice a difference in those contractions as you get close to your due date, trust your instincts.
2. Bloody discharge
Warning: all sorts of delightful terms are used to describe this phenomenon. If you notice a bloody discharge close to your due date, this is likely from the thinning of your cervix, in a process called losing your “mucous plug.” (Could nobody think of a better term than that?) Your mucous plug is basically the substance that has kept your cervix blocked during pregnancy. Now that it’s stretched and thinned enough in preparation for delivery, you may notice it coming out as pink, red, or brown tinted discharge or even a bit more bleeding. Some call this the (brace yourselves again) “bloody show.” While this is a common occurrence, do NOT hesitate to call your doctor if you have any concerns about bleeding or unusual discharge.
3. Baby dropping
Another sign that labor is near is your baby dropping in preparation for his/her descent into the world. You may notice your belly getting rounder and, literally, dropping lower in your abdomen. This may be a nice relief from the pressure in your upper abdomen, but may likely mean more pressure on your pelvis and bladder, and possibly the emergence of the waddle walk. But this is a good thing! This means baby is moving lower toward your cervix, hopefully, head down, and ready for departure soon.
4. Water breaking
Hollywood has convinced many pregnant women that the first thing they’ll experience before labor is a HUGE gush of water pouring down their legs, usually in public and noticeable to everyone in the vicinity. In reality, not all women even notice their water breaking, as it’s often described as more of a trickle like you’re wetting your pants, and many women don’t experience it until AFTER they’ve begun real contractions. However, this is an event that is different for every woman and pregnancy, because your body is different than everybody else’s. Again, trust your instincts.
5. Back pain
A symptom of baby dropping may be increased back pain. As baby’s head pushes into mom’s spine as he/she descends, this can mean some intense pressure on your back that may be worse with contractions. Some women even experience “back labor” where the contractions are MOSTLY felt in the back. If you’re not sure if your baby has dropped but have been experiencing increasing back pain or pressure, those may be a signs that labor is near. How did you know your body was going into labor? Was it what you expected? Tell us your story below!

Author Bio

Angela Silva

Angela graduated with her B.S. in Exercise and Wellness and is a NASM certified personal trainer who specializes in postpartum fitness and recovery. She enjoys writing, cracking jokes, and spending time with her family, preferably while fishing. She shares many of her life adventures on Instagram as @angelagrams