The signs of labor can be confusing. The early signs of labor approaching can give you an idea for what’s to come. We all know to watch for contractions, but what are the other signs you’re in labor BESIDES contractions?
Boom! Labor happens. One minute you’re making out with your baby daddy, and the next minute OUCH — OMGosh the baby is coming! That’s how it happens, right? If you believe the movies, it sure is.
I’m here to tell you that is NOT how it happens. This post is about the signs you’re going into labor. When it’s not “boom. labor” — how do you know it’s the real thing?
Sidenote: I have a whole post all about the question: “Am I in Labor?” It’s going to answer all those questions about things like your mucous plug, your water breaking and how many contractions is enough?
Also, unless you’re in full-blown labor — you DO have enough time to finish a high-quality childbirth class that will give you TONS of information on labor. I 100% recommend this one — be sure to check it out!
Signs of Labor
Labor is like a creeper in the night….
Labor usually comes on quite slowly. Especially if you’re due and waiting for it (preterm contractions might be more “boom” because you’re not sitting around constantly wondering when you’re going to pop). You’ll feel some back pain. You’ll feel like you’re going to start your period, and then the cramps will come on. It may then regress back to just back pain. It comes and goes. It may also really just go after this point.
Keep in mind that labor may start and stop. Totally normal, all part of the process!
BTW, not exactly sure what a contraction is? Bloom Life might be you! Just a simple monitor on your belly, plus an app on your phone will tell you exactly if you ARE contracting, or if you’re not. — Shop this link to save $20 on your rental with coupon code CURLS10 — you can learn more in this post.
Proper Hydration can prevent false signs of labor:
If you’re starting to wonder “Am I in labor?” My big advice is to drink two GIANT glasses of water right then (something like this can make it a little more palatable). A lot of times you’ll feel this way just because you’re dehydrated. They won’t be adequate contractions to get anything going — just enough to make you miserable.
I know that labor can be super confusing — which is why most people take a class on it. Don’t be one of those ladies who WISHED they’d gotten one.
The Online Prenatal class for Couples will simplify the labor process so you can have a more relaxed pregnancy & birth.
- You’re worried about wasting time in a class, you already have so much to do
- You can’t seem to cram a class into your busy schedule
- Worried you’ll be bored with a class
- Worried the information you get won’t be correct
Then, this class is for you! You can even save 10% with code PC10.
Wait, how do YOU know all of this?
That is a great question — and one you should certainly ask of anyone you’re learning from. Just so you know, I’ve been a labor nurse since 2001 and in that time you learn a few things. One of my favorite things is teaching my patients, and I’m lucky to have been able to share that love with the internet.
Oh, and before you go — make sure to grab my hospital bag checklist.
Labor Signs besides Contractions
Discharge changes is a sign of labor
You might be wondering “did my water break”? Just because everything’s a bit damp in the “downtown” (if you know what I mean). Be sure to check out my whole post called Is my Water Broken? It’s hard to tell what exactly is going on. Now is probably the time to put a pad on (love these for after anyway).
I have a whole post on discharge in pregnancy that people love!
Diarrhea can be a sign of labor
Your bowels will clear. You might feel a little nauseated, and you will clear out the other way too. Yay! Make friends with the toilet. I often find it my most comfortable spot in early labor.
Of course, there can be many other things this is a sign of (including bad food), so keep that in mind.
Losing your mucus plug can be a sign of labor
You might lose your mucus plug. Or, you lost it a few weeks ago. Just because you lose your mucus plug doesn’t mean you ARE in labor. It’s just a sign it will happen sometime in the next month. Please, don’t be the woman who brings it to me at the hospital. Please.
Radiating pain can be a sign of labor
Labor usually starts in one area of your torso. Most often we hear it’s in the woman’s back, but sometimes it’s the belly. Then, as labor progresses the pains extend all the way around your mid-section.
Bleeding CAN be a sign of labor
You might also have a little “bloody show” — and no, that’s not a horror movie. It’s just a little action out the va-jay-jay. Good times….
Of course, it can also be a problem so if you’re before 35 weeks and see bright red bleeding, call your provider (and if it’s enough to fill a pad at any point, get yourself to the hospital).
Related Post: How to save on an Owlet monitor
Other labor perks:
- You might be extra emotional
- You might go hot/cold
- You might not be particularly hungry
All of this is getting your body ready to do what you were created to do. Sure, we do lots in our life, but there is so much in your body that was specifically created to push a baby out.
Sure, there can be other signs/symptoms, but that’s what most people experience (but you certainly don’t have to have ALL of them to be IN labor).
How do you KNOW it’s actual labor?
To know if it’s true labor, it has to be opening your cervix.
Usually, that means they get close together and more painful.
Just what you wanted, right?
If you have more questions about labor — be sure to check out this page that has TONS of awesome info answering the big question: Am I In Labor?
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And don’t miss any of my awesome pregnancy posts below:
This post was originally written in 2016, and has been updated.