It might be hard to pinpoint the exact signs of labor a woman will experience. Some women have distinct signs of labor while others don’t. The intensity and experience are different for all individuals. However, there is a basic set of signs and signals that you can prepare to inspect, just in case!
What Do Contractions Feel Like?
It’s normal for expecting mothers to ask the age-old question, “what do contractions feel like?” It’s always nice to know what to expect when it comes to many things, but especially if it’s pain. Right?
Contractions happen when the muscles of the uterus start tightening. While having contractions, the abdomen gets hard, and between contractions, the abdominal region will soften up again. It’s somewhat similar to how a cramp works.
Not all women experience contractions the same because they feel differently from one person to another. The experience can also vary from one pregnancy to the next. Let’s look at some of the details.
- Contractions typically cause a dull ache or discomfort in the back and lower abdomen.
- A lot of women mention feeling pressure in the pelvic region.
- Contractions naturally move like a wave which starts at the top of the uterus and down to the bottom.
- Feeling as if you’re having intense menstrual cramps.
- Contractions don’t stop when you move positions.
True labor contractions tend to start mild, increasing in intensity and length the closer time gets to giving birth. Every woman is different, and there's no way to be sure just how your experience will be. A momma might have an easy delivery and experience with one baby and not another.
Signs of Labor
As crazy as it may seem, some expecting mothers are hardly given a sign that the baby is on the way. It’s not extremely common but for some, going into labor comes without warning. More often than not, there are signs that the baby is almost ready for its arrival into the big outside world.
Lightning: When the baby lowers into the pelvis and settles, which is just before labor, it’s called lightning. It’s also referred to by some as the baby “dropping.” This can happen a few weeks before delivery or a few hours.
The Mucus Plug: The mucus plug accumulates at the cervix during the pregnancy. When the cervix starts to open in order to prepare for childbirth, the mucus plug is discharged into the vagina. From here, it makes its way out.
Contractions: Contractions are the first sign of labor for some women, but not always.
Diarrhea: When a woman is close to their delivery date, and they start experiencing diarrhea, it might be a sign of labor. This happens because of the release of hormones; it is also your body’s way of clearing itself out before the big day. Your body knows what it’s doing.
Weight-loss: Losing a few pounds is common for some women. Usually, it happens during the days leading up to the delivery. It isn’t usually a large amount, just a few.
The “Nesting Instinct”: A momma’s body starts triggering different signals to let her know that it’s almost time for the delivery. Some expecting mothers find themselves bursting with energy after feeling drained for weeks. Some say they had the desire to cook, clean the house, and shop. The final touches before the big, “welcome home!” Just a quick warning, if you experience the nesting instinct, be sure to reserve some of the much-needed energy for the big day.
Change In The Babies Activity: The closer it gets to the delivery time, some babies are less active. They, too, are reserving energy for the delivery. Suppose you notice the baby moving less than usual. In that case, you should let your doctor know because the delivery can start at any time. In some cases, it might be necessary to get to the doctor to be sure there aren’t any issues.
Back Pain & Cramps: These two symptoms are signs of contractions. Contractions are a sign that your baby will be traveling down the birthing canal soon.
Loose / Looser Joints: Here again, we see that our body initiates the preparations necessary on its own. You might find yourself waddling; if so, it’s because a hormone called relaxin is released closer to the delivery time. Relaxin loosens up the ligaments around the pelvis, so as the baby pushes through, it’s easier.
Water Breaking: The amniotic membrane protectively surrounding the baby will rupture before you make it to the delivery room. It feels like a sudden gush of fluid or just a steady trickle. Not all women's water breaks before delivery. Sometimes the water has to be broken by the doctor.
Remember, not all women experience pregnancy and birth in the same way. Talk to your doctor, pay attention to any warning signs, and don’t forget to trust your gut!