Your body actually starts preparing for labor as much as a month before you give birth, so you may begin to notice new symptoms as your due date approaches. There’s no way to predict exactly when labor will start. And even when you notice early signs of labor, Your Child’s birth could still be days or weeks away.
The baby “drops”
If this is your first pregnancy, you may experience what’s known as “lightening” a few weeks before labor starts, meaning the baby now rests lower in your pelvis. Furthermore, you may be waddling more than you have been up until this point, and you may start making frequent trips to the bathroom, as you did way back in your first trimester, because the baby’s head exerts pressure on your bladder. However, the good news is you have a little more breathing room, since Your Child is moving away from your lungs.
Your cervix dilates
Dilation is the process of the cervix opening in preparation for childbirth and happens in the days and weeks before delivery. Dilation is measured in centimeters during an internal pelvic exam. “Fully dilated” means you’re at 10 centimeters and are ready to give birth. Your doctor can tell you how many centimeters your cervix has dilated and is also something that you cannot determine on your own.
You may feel more cramps and back pain
As your muscles and joints are getting ready for childbirth, you may feel some cramps and pain in your groin and lower back as labor nears, similar to a pre-menstrual cramps. This is more likely if this is not your first pregnancy.
Your joints feel looser
The hormone relaxin produced throughout pregnancy makes all of your ligaments soften and loosen, and it’s also responsible for your bouts of clumsiness this past trimester. Before labor kicks in, you may notice that all your joints feel a bit looser. Don’t worry — it’s nature opening up your pelvis to make way for Your Child’s journey into the world.
You have diarrhea
As your muscles are relaxing in preparation for birth so are your rectal muscles, and this can lead to loose bowel movements. Although this may be annoying, it is a good sign. Just stay hydrated!
You feel extra-tired or the opposite
Owing to your big belly, active bladder, and sheer exhaustion, you may find it difficult or even impossible to get a good night’s sleep during the last days and weeks of pregnancy. If you can, take naps during the day. But you may also be feeling the opposite of fatigue — some expecting moms get a burst of energy as the delivery day nears. If you’re one of such, you may have a compelling urge to clean and organize everything in sight. That’s fine. Make sure you don’t overdo it!
You no longer gain weight
Towards the end of pregnancy, weight gain tends to stop. Some expecting moms even lose a little weight, which is normal and doesn’t affect the baby’s birth weight. Though you may be losing weight because of lower levels of amniotic fluid, Your Child is still gaining.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat, MD. (28 June 2020)