Pregnancy is the longest period in a woman’s life- or at least it feels this way! It may seem like it is only 9-months long, but it feels so much longer than that. The first trimester goes by so slowly, as mom waits to tell friends and family the exciting news. The second trimester is a little better because she feels better and the third trimester's unpleasantness seems like it will never end.
Due dates are really just educated guesses. They go by the first day of mom's last menstrual cycle mixed with an ultrasound to let mom and dad know when the little baby will arrive. They can be off by up to two weeks. This means the little one could come two weeks before mom's due date or the dreaded two weeks after. No one ever really knows. Unless mom is being induced for medical reasons or has a scheduled C-section, she won’t really know when to expect the big arrival. It becomes the biggest waiting game of her life. If that doesn’t make her nervous enough, the discomfort she is in is sure to make it worse.
There are certain signs mom can watch out for that may mean labour is coming, and we have found them. We have found 10 signs that it is time to pack the hospital bag, and 10 signs that show mom has plenty of time.
20 Almost there: the plug comes out
The important thing to remember is none of these are fool-proof. None of these things mean that labour is absolutely going to start in the next few hours. However, they are the most noted signs of impeding labour. The mucous plug is something that all pregnant woman has covering their cervix. It is there to help keep harmful bacteria out.
A lot of women note losing this in the days leading up to childbirth. They find it in their underwear and they know things are about to get serious. However, this can grow back so it is not a 100% sure way of telling.
19 Almost there: Aching Back
There are many aches and pains when it comes to pregnancy and they don’t all mean that labour is coming. The back takes a lot of the strain from pregnancy as it is working double-hard to compensate for the extra weight on the front. The lower back especially gets sore and this is another way to help determine if labour is coming.
A close, personal friend of mine spent the day cleaning her house with the most excruciating lower back pain she had ever experienced. It turns out she was in labour and was already 6cm dilated. Again, not a sure way of knowing but it is a subtle sign it is almost time to go.
18 Almost there: False Alarm
Braxton hicks’ contractions, otherwise known as false labour, can happen at any time in a pregnancy. They normally start in the second trimester and while they may be annoying and scary they are not usually cause for concern. If a woman notices an increase in them and she is near the end of her pregnancy it may mean that the real thing is coming.
Hormones in a woman’s body change as she nears the end of labour as her body gets ready to start the real deal. This can cause the cervix to get flexible which causes the annoying false contractions. Braxton hicks are very irregular and can normally be stopped by changing positions or having a warm bath.
17 Almost there: Running To The Bathroom
This is one that I am pretty sure is absolutely fool-proof. A lot of women report having to run to the bathroom very often when they are near the end of labour. We know it is common in pregnancy to have to go pee a lot, that is normal and means nothing. No, we are talking about the other stuff. Women report very loose bowels in the days leading up to labour.
This is caused by two things. Due to hormonal changes, it can cause the bowels to be looser than normal. Your body is also getting ready for labour by expelling everything that it doesn’t need. You will thank it later as you are pushing on the delivery bed.
16 Almost there: Under Pressure
There is a lot of pressure on a woman’s pelvic area when she is pregnant and that only gets worse as the pregnancy progresses. The weight of the baby puts a lot of stress on the pelvic area and it can cause a lot of discomfort at any point. However, women have reported that in the days leading up to labour, this pain becomes completely unbearable.
That they can barely get out of bed without feeling like they are going to be torn in two. This is because the baby is getting ready for labour. The baby is pushing down on the cervix in order to encourage it to start opening. Babies know exactly what to do.
15 Almost there: More Pain Than Normal
Pregnancy is a painful thing, it comes with a lot of negative side effects and there are many reasons why a woman would be in pain. It could be due to the constant heartburn, or the swollen feet that hurt to walk and even all the nausea. This does not mean that labour is coming, which may cause a lot of women to relax a bit if they are not near their due date.
Women report that the pain changes when they are about to go into labour. That it intensifies and gets worse. That it is a different type of pain that they have not yet experienced through their pregnancy. Women should be looking for anything that is out of the ordinary for them as every woman is different.
14 Almost there: Bump Drops
Pregnant bellies come in all shapes and sizes and they can change as the pregnancy progresses. A lot of it has to do with the position the baby is laying in. If the baby is laying in a funny position it can make the bump look a little weird, even lopsided. There is a thing known as the belly dropping that is a clear sign that labour is imminent.
The belly will look a little sluggish compared to how it looked before, and that is because the baby has dropped. When the baby drops lower into the pelvic area on its way to the birth canal it will give the once perky bump a sagging look.
13 Almost there: Sleepless Nights
I have had two children and I can personally speak to this sign of labour. With both of my children, I experienced a lot of insomnia leading up to it. It is always hard to sleep when you are pregnant, especially near the end. It is impossible to get comfortable and you are always running to the bathroom to empty your bladder.
However, near the end of pregnancy and in the days leading up to labour, it can be almost impossible to get some sleep. You will know the difference because the things that kept you up before are not what is keeping you up now. You are comfortable, and you don’t need the bathroom, you just can’t get your anxious mind to shut off.
12 Almost there: Crying All The Time
Not all signs of impending labour are physical. Some of them can be emotional as well and no one knows emotions better than a pregnant woman. Hormones are a big part of being a woman, and when those pregnancy hormones hit, it can be a game changer. Mom will be crying over every little thing, and they will be silly things.
Women have reported that in the week leading up to labour they have been more emotional than before and for no apparent reason. This could be due to a different set of hormones that have started to creep up as your body gets ready for childbirth.
11 Almost there: Nesting
Just as a bird builds a nest in order to get ready for her eggs, so will mom. Nesting is a very common thing to happen to women who are expecting a baby. Nesting is this uncontrollable urge to clean the house and get it organized. It is our way of getting our home ready to bring that little baby home.
Nesting can happen at any time in pregnancy and it can come and go. Most of the time it will show up as the pregnancy nears an end. It may not be the most reliable way of telling if labour is coming, but it is a good time to get everything ready.
10 Nervous? May Be A While
Now we are on to the ten things that happen during pregnancy that probably mean nothing at all. If you feel any of these things you may still have a while to go. Having a sudden feeling of being anxious and nervous is no indicator that labour is coming.
It is normal for a lot of women to feel nervous as their pregnancy comes to an end. Especially if this is her first baby and she have no idea what to expect when it comes to childbirth. Even if she has given birth before, she now knows what is coming and it can make her nervous. Nervousness can come at any time during a pregnancy, so it is not a trustworthy source.
9 A Feeling? May Be A While
We are not going to debate here on whether psychics are real, but there are a lot of women out there who feel like they just knew that labour was coming. That they had this sense deep down inside that they were going to be delivering their baby soon and sure enough, a few days later they went into labour. This may be true, or mother’s intuition, but it is more likely a coincidence.
This feeling could also be attributed to a woman experiencing a lot of the signs we talked about in the first half of this article. They feel off or worse than normal and they start to realize that labour is coming.
8 Discharge? May Be A While
One of the grosser parts of pregnancy is discharge. Discharge is a very common side effect of pregnancy and it effects almost all women who carry a child. It can get so severe at times that a woman has to wear a menstrual pad in order to keep it under control. Discharge can tell you a lot, but unless it is the mucous plug, it can not be used to determine if labour is coming.
Every woman is different and will experience this in different ways. A woman can even experience it differently with different pregnancies. When something can be so different it is almost impossible to use it as a way to determine if labour will start.
7 Swollen Ankles? May Be A While
This is a common complaint among women who are pregnant, swollen ankles. Unfortunately, this will happen to a lot of women when they are pregnant, and it does not mean that the end is near. The reason some may believe this is a sign is because it usually occurs near the end of pregnancy. A woman is carrying a lot of fluid while she is pregnant and when she is on her feet for a long time, gravity can do its job and send it all down to her ankles and feet.
The best thing to do to help these poor feet is to rest as much as possible. Soak your feet and drink a lot of water to help flush out the extra fluid.
6 Clingy Pets? May Be A While
A lot of families have pets, cats and dogs are the most common furry companions. There are a lot of people who believe that our pets are telling us a lot more than we think if we only pay attention. They say that they know you are pregnant before you do and that they can tell you when you are about to go into labour. That they will get extra clingy when mom is about to go into labour.
This is not to be used as a reliable way of telling if labour is coming. It may or may not be true, but it shouldn’t be trusted. We don’t really know why pets do what they do because they can not actually communicate with us vocally.
5 Less Movement? May Be A While
One of the best parts of pregnancy is feeling your baby kick. It is the moment a lot of women look forward to because they start to feel connected to their baby in an unexplainable way. Fetal movement is also a great way in determining if your baby is OK in there. Women are advised to do kick-counts if they ever feel like something is wrong or if they have not felt their baby in a while.
A lot of people think that if their baby has stopped moving as frequently that they are about to go into labour and this is not true. Babies can also move more when they are about to be born so it is not reliable. Babies run out of womb near the end of pregnancy, so it makes sense why they would move less.
4 Crazy Dream? May Be A While
One of the weirdest symptoms of pregnancy is crazy dreams. These can happen at any time in the pregnancy, so they are not a trustworthy indicator that labour is about to happen. There are a few theories why this happens and one of them is hormones that are running crazy through a woman’s body. The other could be due to the interruption in sleep cycles as it is hard for a pregnant woman to sleep.
Dreams may increase near the end of pregnancy and it could be due to the fact that this is when mom is waking up a lot more due to her need to get comfortable and go to the bathroom. It also could be due to her anxiety about the thought of delivering.
3 Doctor Tells You? May Be A While
There is no one a pregnant woman trusts more than her own doctor. It is the person she trusts the most to make sure her and her little baby are as healthy as can be. It is always important to remember that doctors are human too and they do not know everything, including when your baby will be born. They can make the same educational guesses as anyone can with the ultrasound.
Near the end of your pregnancy, the doctor may start checking your cervix to see if you are dilated at all. Even if they tell you that you are a certain number of centimetres dilated this does not mean labour is coming as women can sit this way for a while before the big event comes.
2 Nausea? May Be A While?
Some pregnancies end the same way they start, with nausea and a lot of throwing up. Morning sickness is one of the most well-known and uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy and a lot of women are normally very happy when that part is over. They may get disappointed when this seems to appear as the pregnancy nears the finish line. They may think that labour is only hours away.
This is not true. Women do get nauseous near the end of pregnancy, but it could be for many reasons other than the start of labour. They could have eaten to much causing them to feel uncomfortable or sick. The baby is also placing a lot of pressure on mom’s internal organs, including the stomach, which can cause some discomfort.
1 Membrane Sweep? May Be A While
Another thing that may happen as a woman’s pregnancy nears the end is something called a membrane sweep. This is something the doctor will do to try and induce labour. This will only be done normally if a woman has reached her due date or has gone over as it is the least invasive and safest way to try and bring labour on naturally.
If you have this done, or if your doctor has mentioned doing it, it doesn’t mean that labour will start right away. While some women do report that this put them in labour fairly quickly, others have had it done and gone on for a little bit longer. The truth is, nothing will start labour if that baby is not ready to come out.
References: Made For Mums