If you’re in the third trimester of pregnancy, you might be wondering how you’ll know when you’re really in labor. Even women who've had other children can't always determine when labor is starting. It’s because lots of the early signs of labor are uncertain and easy to mistake for something else. So, before you pack up for the hospital, check to see if you have these common signs that you are in labor:
- Strong, Routine Contractions -- Contractions are one of the most obvious signs of labor, but many women mix them up with “Braxton Hicks” contractions (practice contractions). A good way to tell if they’re real contractions is whether they get stronger and are regular. Try drinking some water or eating something: does it make your contractions go away? If it does, those are probably just Braxton Hicks contractions. Real contractions won’t back off until delivery.
- Your Water Breaks – Just a small amount of women experience their water breaking dramatically. More often, it’s like a small leak. Once your water has broken, it means labor is coming.
- Discharge – When you’re pregnant, your cervix is closed and plugged up with mucus. Once you move towards labor, your cervix starts to soften to get ready for delivery. This makes what’s been there to dislodge. You’ll notice a runny smear, aka “mucus plug” or a bloody show.
- A backache – If you start to feel harsh back pain, it could be a sign that you're experiencing "back labor.” Whether you have true back labor or not, searing back pain is a sure signal that your body’s getting ready to deliver.
- Diarrhea – In the early stages of labor, your body lets go of hormone-like stuff that causes your uterus to contract and help expand and soften your cervix. This can also stimulate your bowels, causing lots of bathroom trips or even diarrhea.
When in doubt, be sure to get in touch with your medical professional. The information on this blog is not meant to replace your doctor or serve as medical advice.