The days and hours leading up to the real labor can be painful and stressful for some women, while others don’t even realize that they are in labor until their water breaks.
Here are the signs to look out for, which can tell you when #baby is coming:
You pass your mucus plug or notice “bloody show”: During pregnancy, a thick plug of mucus protects the cervical opening from bacteria entering the uterus. When your cervix begins to thin and relax, this plug is naturally expelled in the last days before labor. The plug may come out in one lump or as an increased amount of vaginal discharge over the course of several days. The mucus may be tinged with brown, pink, or red blood, which is why it’s called “bloody show.” It is an indication that you are hours or a few days away.
You feel stronger, more frequent contractions: When you begin to experience regular contractions every 30 minutes, it is a strong indication that you are in labor. When this happens, start recording the exact time each contraction begins and how long they last. These contractions can feel like menstrual cramps or like a lower backache that comes and goes. Women often feel pain at the back at first, which later moves towards the front. With false labor, the pain is usually only felt near the front.
Over the course of time, your contractions are likely to start occurring at shorter intervals of perhaps every 10-15 minutes. They won’t stop or ease up, and they’ll become more painful and occur closer together. But if they remain irregular, then what you’re feeling is probably the so-called false labor, and you are maybe still a few days away.
Once the contractions are 5 minutes apart, it’s time to go to the hospital. You are now probably only 5 to 15 hours away from giving birth.
Your water breaks: When the water breaks, you are usually only a few hours away from giving birth. That means it’s a late sign of labor, and only around 1 in 10 women experience it outside the hospital. So don’t always expect to see this sign.
Some women feel the ‘pop’ when the fluid-filled amniotic sac surrounding the baby ruptures, and fluid leaks from the vagina. If the fluid is anything other than clear and odorless, especially if it is green in color or foul smelling, you should tell your doctor. Most women start having regular contractions before their water breaks, but in some cases, the water breaks first.
- Start of Labor, National Institutes of Health (https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/labor-delivery/topicinfo/start-of-labor )
- For Patients, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (https://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq004.pdf)
- Labor and delivery, What to Expect (https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/labor-and-delivery)