Having a baby is most certainly one of the most exciting times in a woman's life. The preparation and anticipation is sometimes so intense, that mom-to-be may even begin to space out on even the most basic of everyday routines. One day, the garbage may not get taken out on time, while the following day, she might perhaps forget to pick up milk... but when it comes to baby, Mom is most likely monitoring every sign and symptom with profound attention to detail.
Why is this? Well, the long and short of it is that mothers become mothers long before baby makes that first appearance outside of the womb. So of course it makes sense then, that one may be a bit hypersensitive as labor and delivery become visible on the horizon.
As pregnancy progresses, many new and fascinating tidbits of information are learned and stored inside of new motherly minds. The idea that labor is imminent is something that most have seen played out over and over in a sitcom or two, but is that really how it goes down? No warning? No symptoms or lead up?
Every pregnancy begins and ends in its own unique way, but over the next several pages, we will reveal some of the more common characteristics of a woman approaching labor. Some symptoms are much more obvious than others, but all are worth noting as that "big moment" draws near.
15 The Pregnancy Waddle
As baby grows and develops inside the womb, Mom will experience changes in her own body as well. Obviously, when the unborn baby is only a few months along on its journey, the size and shape of the uterus, and all things mama are going to be closer to the mother's normal size. As things progress, however, organs move, skin stretches, ankles swell, and a myriad of other related events occur.
When the mom-to-be is getting closer to her due date, her physical presence and posture will likely look a lot different as well.
I'm sure you have heard of a woman's walk being referred to as a "waddle" at this point in pregnancy. While not a flattering thing to say, there is a scientific sort of reason for the somewhat unusual duck walk.
When the tummy begins its final growth spurt, bulging beyond anything up until this point, Mom's center of gravity changes pretty drastically. It is because of this awkward weight distribution that Mom may start to walk, sit, and even sleep in some fairly unique positions.
Perhaps the hubby can help out at this point to let their little mama know that they still think she is beautiful...waddle and all.
14 Cold And Shivering
As you enter the last few days before delivery, your internal thermostat may indeed start to short circuit. While some moms may have been hot through much of these nine months, it is now time to shiver. Not just a little shiver either...I'm talking can't warm up, teeth chattering, need two blankets and a cup of tea kind of shiver. Not really sure what causes this other that the obvious hormonal fluctuations and potentially a bit of pre-delivery anxiety and nerves.
So if you find yourself freezing your butt off, and you don't have a fever (if you do feel sick or feverish along with the shivers please consult your doctor), grab yourself some slippers and a warm blanket or two, and get some well earned rest. You're going to need it to bring that beautiful little one into this crazy world.
Maybe you can use the opportunity to get in some soon to be harder to come by snuggle time with your significant other. Or perhaps you can be like me, and place your freezing hands and feet on your husband's very warm and cozy belly underneath his shirt. Works like a charm, and quite entertaining too!!
13 Downstairs Wetness
A sudden increase in assorted discharges down there may signal that labor will be coming on in the near future. Whether it is due to the fetal bladder beginning to detach from the uterine walls, or a bit of amniotic fluid that may begin to leak, if you suddenly feel the need for a panty liner and you are in your last few weeks of pregnancy, it may be an indicator that things may be moving along a bit more quickly soon.
When we're expecting to go into labor at any moment, we do tend to become a bit hypersensitive to every little thing that may seem a little bit different than our norm.
This is to be expected, and honestly, quite normal as well. If there is any pain associated with the discharge, or it is in what you consider to be a large quantity, is would definitely be a good idea to give your doctor a call.
It's always better to be safe than sorry when dealing with something unfamiliar. Babies have a way of making dramatic entrances into their new worlds, so don't be surprised if yours has a few tiny little tricks of his or her sleeve.
12 The 'Gotta Go' Feeling
Oh my goodness, this one was definitely true for me. By the time I was actually ready to go into labor, I felt like I had to pee about a hundred times a day. Seriously!! How can one little baby cause so much pressure on the bladder? Well technically, it's not only the baby, and it's not only the bladder, but the long and short of it is that when your little one is ready to get things rolling, more likely than not you are going to be running (well waddling) to the bathroom quite often.
Keep this in mind when you are out and about and taking care of last minute errands near the end of your pregnancy. Why? You ask? Well, it is not the same feeling as when you have had to pee in the past.
This is like the worst you've had to pee in your life (like stuck in concert traffic after having a few glasses of wine with friends and no bathroom for miles kind of have to pee).
When the feeling comes, it comes on quickly, and it would be in your best interest to be as near to a bathroom as possible in that moment.
Not to fear though, mamas. As much as this may give you that urgent and uncomfortable feeling, the actual amount of pee is not as much as it feels like. It is just because you are out of space in that general area. There's really no way to avoid the frequency unless perhaps you are having a tiny baby.
11 A Full Stomach
Let's face it, mamas. For much of our pregnancies, we have walked around ravenously hungry with no real end to our ever increasing appetites. Whether your go-to thing has been ice cream, salads, pickles, cookies, or even fruit salad, by the last few weeks of this baby growing adventure...
Your appetite may actually start to decrease as labor becomes imminent.
Why is this?
Well, there are a few things that nature assures when the baby is truly beginning to make its exit. For one, that beautiful little bundle of joy is now taking up more room in your internal area than you are, this of course includes a feeling of fullness in the stomach area. Secondly, digesting all of those yummy treats may suddenly become a bit more complicated as things start to heat up. Heartburn and constipation may begin to get the best of you in your last few weeks, and for this reason, over eating may not seem as appealing as it once did.
In any case, when labor is actually about to begin, it is easier for the mom's body to focus on baby, than it is to focus on digesting a bacon double cheeseburger. You know what I mean? Sometimes we just need to follow mother nature's lead.
10 Feeling Light (Or Heavier)
Sudden weight gains or losses are quite common right before the onset of labor and delivery. Obviously, the most common culprit for this fluctuation is water weight. At the tail end of pregnancy, variations in weight are completely normal, and each woman will likely experience something completely different than her counterparts.
Every pregnant body reacts to certain foods and other stimuli in different ways. In fact, by the time you are actually ready to give birth, chances are that your very own body has become a place where the unpredictable reaction here and there has become more common than not.
So what's a mama supposed to do? Well, my best advice is to stay calm, cool, and collected, and ride out the last few adventures of your pregnancy like a champ.
If you have gained a couple pounds, lost a couple pounds, or simply stayed the same weight for a week or so, don't fret. You are getting to the end, and soon you will be able to recognize yourself a little bit better. After all, consider the miraculous nature of all you have put your body through in the last nine months! A couple of curious pounds up or down is not going to make a bit of difference in the long run.
9 Unusual Baby Movements
Baby's movements begin to become more erratic as their exit plan starts to fall into place. Where sometimes a movement routine of sorts has formed during pregnancy, the last few days are often filled with movements that until then, were unfamiliar to the mom-to-be. For example, if your little one would tend to be quiet and still after a meal, and on this particular day they are going a bit bonkers, you may be nearing the beginning of labor.
The opposite can also be true. If your baby has been a rocker and roller at all hours of the night, and suddenly decides to sleep the night away in the comfort of their internal home, that too could be a sign that labor is drawing near. Personally, my babies did a lot of big stretches that seemed unusual to me right before I went into labor. Not just the normal kind of stretches, but the kind that you feel throughout your entire body!! Not the comfiest feeling in the world if you know what I mean.
In any case, unusual changes in movement are quite common as labor begins.
If any of these movements, or lack of movements cause you concern, it is always a good idea to check with you doctor.
8 The Joints Will Loosen
Some of us feel like we are wound up pretty tight during pregnancy. Much emphasis is put on the changes occurring both physically and emotionally during this fascinating time. As the birth date draws near, the body begins to relax a bit in preparation for the little one's big entrance into the world. This may be due to the fact that we are actually exhausted, but more than likely it the body's direct preparation for the labor and delivery process that is right around the corner.
For many, the hours and days right before labor begins bring a slightly more comfortable overall feeling in the joints and muscles. Most of the major growth has happened, baby is ready to make its way out, and our bodies are kind of letting us know that we have done a good job.
If your joints become extra painful or swollen during this time, it wouldn't hurt to speak to you doctor. As with anything pregnancy related, each mom and baby has their own little journey to take. There is no right or wrong here, just a little heads up in the upcoming labor department. Soon your body will be getting back to normal, and you can start to adjust to living with baby on the outside.
7 Happy, Sad, Happy, Sad
As labor draws near, many find it difficult to keep all their raw emotions in check. It's usually a combination of hormones, discomfort, anticipation, frustration, and fear of the unknown that can be blamed for these mood swings. Of course the other humans in our lives can certainly play a role in our disposition as well, particularly our significant other (most likely the father of the baby). It's amazing how much influence others can have on our own peace of mind.
For example, you have had a rough day at work, you were worried about many different aspects of motherhood, labor, delivery, etc. Your brain just wouldn't leave you alone all day, and you were stressed to the max.
In scenario number one, you get home and your hubby is bitching about his day, and how stressed he is about money for your growing family. You now lose it completely and become a blubbering mess.
In scenario number two, your day at work remains the same horrible stressful mess. This time however, you get home and hubby surprises you with a nice dinner and a few sweet words about how excited he is to meet the baby. BAM! Your mood instantly brightens. You suddenly get the feeling that everything is going to be okay.
In any case, just try to be kind to yourself, particularly as you are nearing the end of this part of your journey.
6 The Baby Will Drop
In theory, within a couple of weeks of baby making their grand entrance, they will start to make their way down into the pelvis to prepare for their exit. Most of the time, this is done head first, to assure that baby will be able to pushed out by Mom in the traditional manner. This is certainly not always the case though. Sometimes feet are first, and sometimes a myriad of other strange positions could come in to play. Cross your fingers for the traditional route if you can, it certainly makes things easier.
For me, baby number two was in the correct position for weeks before her due date. As with anything however, we should never count our chickens before they are hatched. Two days before I went into labor, my sweet little princess moved out of position, never to return. She ended up being a c-section, and to this day, very much has a mind of her own. You just never know.
In any case, the last few days before labor can be as unpredictable as labor and delivery itself. It's always best to follow your gut, and have things checked out if you have any questions. Giving birth is always an interesting undertaking no matter what happens in the few days beforehand.
5 It's A Pain In The Back... Literally!
As the baby grows and develops inside the womb, Mom's body changes too. The human skeleton and muscles shift and adjust to the baby's added stress on the body. While the tummy seems to grow larger and larger with each passing day, somehow it still comes as a shock that the lower back may have a tough time carrying the new load. It is for this reason, that many expectant mommies can be seen supporting their lower back with their hand while they walk. It's kind of a "classic" look for late term moms-to-be.
That being said, as labor approaches, the lower back may tighten up on you a bit more
There is a lot of action in the days leading up to meeting your little one, and the stress combined with the physical adjustments being made can make for an aching back.
Not to fret mamas! It will certainly pass as soon as junior makes his appearance, but until then, try to refrain from any extra strain on your back. No heavy packages or bending and lifting. Try to support yourself while moving from standing to sitting and the reverse. A little thought and planning can go a long way in keeping yourself happy and comfortable.
4 Over-The-Top Nesting
What in the world is nesting, you ask? Are we laying eggs? Of course we are not actually laying eggs in a nest, but we are wired in a very similar fashion. When labor is just around the corner, many moms-to-be get a sudden burst of energy, and begin to do a bunch of extra cleaning, organizing, painting, etc. in preparation for their precious bundle's arrival. We make our nest cozy and safe so that the baby has a wonderful environment to come home to after your stay at the hospital.
Nesting is a phenomenon that is usually dead-on. Labor is almost certainly imminent when nesting occurs in those last weeks of pregnancy. Where else is that burst of energy going to come from? Seriously? We waddle around having to pee and needing a nap, and then suddenly start decorating the nursery and mopping the kitchen floor? Yeppers! That's exactly what we do. It's quite comical really.
In any case, nesters take care; be careful not to over exert yourself to the point of exhaustion. You are going to need all of the energy you can muster to bring that beautiful baby into the world within the next few days. Besides, you may want to enjoy the peace and quiet while you have it.
3 Loss Of That Plug
Okay, Mamas...until becoming pregnant ourselves, I would bet that most of us had never even heard of a mucus plug. Sounds pretty icky, right? Well, it's certainly not the most pleasant thing in the world, but if you are about to give birth, I guarantee you that a silly little mucous plug pales in comparison to some of the things that you will likely go through during childbirth.
Call me crazy, but it's all kind of a matter of perspective. Anyway, what is a mucous plug, you ask?
It is a bit thicker than a normal vaginal discharge, and may have a streak or two of blood in it. If you see this when you are nearing the end of your third trimester, you will likely be in labor pretty soon. If you pass your mucous plug and suddenly have heavy bleeding or any other odd symptoms, you will need to consult your doctor ASAP.
This adventure is certainly exciting, and with each passing day that brings you closer to your due date, you will likely be watching for these signs a little more closely.
My recommendation is that you try to relax as much as you can in these last few days, and take every odd little step closer to delivery with a grain of salt. Labor will be starting shortly, and you have to keep up your energy.
2 Changes In Your Habits
Sudden and unexpected changes in bowel movements may also be a indication that labor is on its way. The reasons for these changes, once again, are directly related to the woman's body preparing itself to have a successful labor and delivery. Whether you end up with one final huge poop that is hard to pass, or a case of diarrhea that may appear to come out of nowhere, more likely than not, your colon will be clean as a whistle by the time you get into the groove of your labor.
Some notice bowel changes earlier during pregnancy as well, but this is not the same, and is by no means an indicator that you will be going into an early labor. Once again, try to relax, and also do yourself a favor by not straying too far from a decent bathroom.
You certainly wouldn't want to get stuck in a gas station bathroom for any long period of time. Yuck. Also, if you should find yourself with a severe case of diarrhea or constipation, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor.
In any case, to most, labor and delivery will erase (at least temporarily) any memory of a difficult poop that may have arisen over the days prior. It's all a matter of perspective. If delivering a baby doesn't erase that memory, you must have had one seriously large problem.
Obviously, the best recognized sign that labor is near is the start of contractions. Some contractions may be many hours apart, and some may only be minutes. Some women, however, have what are known as Braxton Hicks contractions at other times during pregnancy, and they are not an indicator that your time has come to make that little trip to the hospital. If you do have anything that you believe is a contraction during those last few days or weeks before your due date, please don't hesitate to call your doctor.
Doctor visits become much more frequent toward the end of your third trimester anyway, so chances are pretty good that your doctor will be expecting a call or two from you during the time in between visits. Many moms-to-be are not sure exactly what they are feeling, and all want to make sure they are doing what is right for themselves and their baby.
So mamas, babies have been coming into this world forever, and most of the time, miraculous as it may be, we make it to the hospital with plenty of time to deliver in a safe and comfortable environment. If you believe that you are indeed beginning to show signs of being in labor, be smart and proactive. It is always best to speak to your doctor if you have any questions.
References: Weetnow.com and Americanpregnancy.org