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How to Recognize Early Signs of Labor

Unless you and your care team have scheduled a Caesarean section for your baby’s birth, it can be stressful wondering when your little one is going to make his entrance into the world. While it can be impossible to predict exactly when labor will begin, there are some common, early signs of labor that many women miss.

Increasing Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions are contractions that begin in the second or third trimester of your pregnancy. They occur when the muscles of your uterus tighten for short period of time, typically anywhere between 30 seconds to two minutes, and help prepare you for the more severe contractions you’ll feel during labor and delivery. While you may have experienced these throughout your pregnancy, they may become more severe and happen more frequently as labor grows near.

Lowering of the Baby

The closer you get to giving birth, the lower your baby will move into your pelvis. One early labor symptom is the feeling of increased pressure on your pelvis. For some mothers who have carried their baby high throughout the pregnancy, this will be even more noticeable. This movement can make you need to urinate more frequently, have difficulty with bowel movements and increase swelling in your feet and legs.

Changes in Discharge

A woman’s cervix is sealed during pregnancy with the mucous plug. An increase in discharge forces the plug to be passed, during which broken blood vessels can change its color to brown or pink. When this occurs, it typically means that labor will begin within hours or days. However, if this happens before 37 weeks into your pregnancy you should contact your doctor.

Water Breaking

One of the most recognized early signs of labor is when a woman’s water breaks. This occurs when her amniotic sac ruptures and a clear, odorless fluid is released. This can happen all at once or in a steady drip. For most women, this does not occur until they have already been admitted to the hospital, but it can be an early labor sign if it does happen outside of the hospital.

If you have any questions or concerns about signs of labor or symptoms you’re experiencing during your pregnancy, speak with your doctor today.


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