Knowing when Labor Has Begun

It’s not entirely uncommon for a woman to feel like she may be in labor long before she actually is. Many new moms will make at least one trip to the hospital, thinking that today is the day, only to find that they’re sent back home. Knowing when labor has begun means not only watching for labor signs, but also knowing whether or not those signs are really indicative that labor has begun.

Here are some of the earliest signs of labor, which can tip you off to the fact that your baby may be coming within the next couple of days or even sooner:

  • Nesting. This doesn’t necessarily happen for every woman, and it’s no reason to rush to the hospital. That being said, many women experience a rush of energy just before labor, and they start to prepare their home for the new baby.
  • Lightening. In the later part of pregnancy, your baby is going to settle down into the birthing position. This will reduce pressure on your lungs, and you’ll be able to breathe a good bit easier. This usually will happen within a week or two prior to labor.
  • Cervical changes. These are hard to detect on your own, of course. Your cervix is going to change in two ways: dilation and effacement. The cervix will thin or “ripen”, which is referred to as “effacement.” It will also open, which is known as “dilation.” Your doctor will be able to tell when these things are happening.
  • Water breaking. The rupture of your membranes is the process whereby the amniotic sac ruptures. It will then leak, and this is what’s known as your water “breaking.” This usually means labor isn’t too far away. You should always talk with your doctor, as having your membranes rupture can pose a risk of infection if labor doesn’t start soon.
  • Bloody show. There is a thick plug of mucus that blocks the opening of your cervix. During dilation and effacement, this plug usually is discharged. This comes out as a stringy brown mucus, and it can mean that labor is coming soon.
  • Contractions. The best sign you’re going into labor is consistent contractions that become closer together and become longer and stronger.


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