How do I know labor started?
Every single pregnant woman most likely asked herself before – how will I know that I am actually in labor? How do i know it’s time to go to the hospital?
If you ask any other mom the chances are good that you got the same answer as me “oh trust me, you will know”
While you are in labor there is a lot happening inside your body.
- Your cervix is thinning out (effacement) and getting soft. (ripening)
- The cervix may already dilate (open up). The cervix has to be open all the way (10 cm) before you can push the baby out.
I was actually waking around dilated 5 cm without feeling anything. When I told my mom that she could not believe it since she was in horrible pain when she had me before she was even dilated that far.
- Your baby starts positioning itself downwards. The position can have a huge impact of the length of your labor.
Disclaimer: even though this article is well researched – I am not a medical professional. If you have any symptoms or questions it is always better to contact your doctor.
Anxiously waiting to be in labor
I was seriously anxious I could have my baby on the way to the hospital which was almost 1 hour away because of traffic or that we waited to long to go. Well, I only made myself crazy.
In the end I had a very easy labor and delivery and we got there all relaxed with no traffic at all and plenty of time until the baby really came.
Everybody and every single pregnancy are completely different. While some moms are in excruciating pain during labor and delivery it can feel like a piece of cake for others.
First-time moms will usually be in labor longer while moms that already had multiple pregnancies might have their baby in not even an hour.
Did you know that also only around 5% of all women actually deliver their baby on their due date? Most women have their baby two weeks before or after.
There is no need to induce when you are still in that range and the baby is healthy and you are healthy too.
For first time moms labor can last as long as 24 hours.
What happens before the actual labor?
You may experience so-called Braxton-hicks contractions. Those are a mild form of contractions and also called practice contractions. They usually happen sometime towards the end of your second trimester and beginning of the third trimester.
The baby positions itself. This is also called “lightening” or “dropping” and describes the movement of the baby from the uterus further down towards the pelvis. This can give pregnant women a huge relief. Your stomach is not that squished anymore and acid re-flux can get better. Also, your shortness of breath may disappear. You may even hear a loud “plopp” sound when it happens.
You go in full nesting mode. Nesting is known as a burst of energy where pregnant women start cleaning the whole house and getting everything organized and ready for the baby. Maybe some new decoration and a few more outfits for the baby?
Your baby moves less. That does not mean the baby should stop. By now there is barely space for your baby to move around but you should still feel it several times a day. If it has been a few hours without feeling your baby try drinking something sugary like juice or cold water. If you still can not feel any movement call your doctor right away.
Vaginal discharge can increase during the last few weeks of pregnancy. It can become thicker.
Did you pack your hospital bag yet? Find out what you actually need:
– Hospital Bag – do I really need all of this?
Let’s start with the most obvious sign – your water just broke. There could be plenty of water at once or a drop here and there.
In both cases you should consult your doctor or drive to the hospital. Even though the water breaking is a clear sign it does not necessarily mean that you will have your baby right away.
My friend Anika had her water breaking but the labor didn’t start until two days later.
When my water broke my body instantly wanted to push. I was already in full labor at that time though. But either way it’s not anything like they show you in the movies especially when you’re a first time mom.
If you’re feeling period like cramps or pain that comes and goes and you are very close to your due date chances are good that you actually are in labor. So what now?
You do not have to do to the hospital until the time-frame from start to end each time the pain comes is about 5 minutes. There are great apps where you can actually time your contractions.
You should start tracking your contractions for an hour and see what happens. If they come very frequent and under 5 minutes go to the hospital.
I used the Ovia pregnancy app during my whole pregnancy and would recommend it to everyone. It is free and you can track symptoms, see compared to fruit how big your baby is for each week of the pregnancy, and time your contractions when the time comes.
The app also has a Community section where you can ask other moms for tips or help and answer questions yourself or simply good thoughts when you’re already over the whole pregnancy while everyone stays anonymous.
However, if you already had a baby the next one could be coming a lot fast than you might expect.
Loosing the mucus plug
Some women can actually see that they are losing the mucus plug in form of pink, light brown or slightly bloody mucus.
The mucus plug is located on the end of your uterus and literally acts as a plug to keep any bacteria out.
It can come off in pieces or as a whole. You might not even notice it and it is not a very great sign to predict the childbirth.
If you can see that your mucus plug came out it could still be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks until you are actually going into labor.
When should I be concerned?
Labor is a great thing when the baby is ready to come. In some cases it is a good idea to consult a health care provider.
- Water breaking without any contractions
- You start going into labor before 36 weeks of pregnancy (Your baby may not be ready)
- Constant and strong pain that is NOT contractions
- If your baby does not move anymore or you can’t tell when you felt your baby last
- You start to have a fever (If you are leaking water it could be pregnancy poisoning)
Besides these signs of being in labor you could also experience other symptoms. Diarrhea, headache, insomnia, feeling restless and overly exhausted – just to name a few.
These could be symptoms for a labor happening soon. On the other hand many women have all these during pregnancy anyway so it is definitely not a sign that you will be in labor soon.
Overall no matter what happens – don’t stress yourself out too much.
Birth is something you cannot control any way and when the baby decides to come out it will happen. It’s best if you don’t even think about the delivery while you’re still pregnant and don’t let yourself get irritated by the crazy stories some women tell.
Yes, it might’ve happened to them but that doesn’t mean you will have hard labor or complications. You could end up having the easiest delivery.
You got this mama!
Are you currently pregnant?
Make sure you got all the basics for your nursery covered!
Subscribe to our email list and get a free baby registry checklist.