After nine months or so of pregnancy, moms can be impatient waiting for their baby to be born. As much as they dread the actual labor, many moms are so tired of the aches and pains of pregnancy that they convince themselves over and over again that the baby must be ready to be born. But so often they come away disappointed.
Some women can find a sign that labor is imminent in just about everything, but we are here to assure moms — or disappoint them — that there can be just as many signs that the baby is staying put. These signs are fairly universal — just about all moms have a sensation that the baby drops before the birth, so if the baby is still high in the abdomen, then the baby isn't budging for a while.
It's not as easy as looking at the due date, since some babies come early and others arrive late, but if a mom has the information, she might be able to predict what is going to happen in her situation. Even for women who experience premature labor, we have some truths on how doctors might be able to stop it. This list can teach moms-to-be a lot about the end of pregnancy and maybe even how to make it end quicker.
Here are 20 physical signs the baby isn't ready to come out yet.
20 High And Dry: has the baby bump dropped?
Every mom carries her baby differently in her womb. Her body determines whether she has a bump like a high basketball or a wider, lower carriage. And even subsequent pregnancies can be a little different. But even if the baby seems to be lower from the start, that position will shift when the delivery is imminent.
The baby will drop lower into the abdomen and closer to the birth canal in the last couple of weeks or days before the birth, so it's definitely a sign that the baby isn't ready to come out when the baby is still high and dry.
19 sometimes there are Contractions mom doesn't feel, and sometimes they don't mean birth
Just because a woman is having contractions doesn't mean that the baby is ready to come. In fact, many women have lots of contractions for weeks, maybe even months before they are actually in labor. Sometimes they are painful, and sometimes the mom doesn't even flinch. She might have a nonstress test and find out that she's having contractions that she doesn't feel at all.
Contractions can come and go for some women, especially if it isn't their first baby. When it is closer to time, the mom might get fooled to think that she is in labor, but then the contractions will peter out again. Doctors recommend waiting until the contractions have been steady for at least an hour before thinking it is time to head to the hospital.
18 dilation starts weeks ahead of time, so if you're at zero it's not time
Every mom knows that the baby is ready to come when she starts dilating, but they don't realize that their cervix can start to open up days or even weeks ahead of time. The doctor will start to check the mom's cervix at doctor's appointments in the last month to six weeks before the due date. That's because the cervix can open up before the contractions even begin. Some women show up to the doctor already opened up a couple of inches without even knowing it.
As long as the doctor reports a zero, that means that the baby is not ready to come out yet. It can take weeks for the dilation to occur, especially for the first baby, so a zero means it will be a while.
17 opening must be "thick"
Even before the cervix starts to dilate, it actually has to thin first. That's because the barrier has very stages before the birth. Many women don't know that, so they aren't sure what is going on when the doctor says that their cervix is thick — it means that the baby is not ready to come out.
If a mom has to be induced, the thinning of the cervix is an entirely different process that has to be done before pitocin is administered. We'll go into that more later, but for now, we just want women to understand that the pressure of the baby on the cervix eventually thins it out. It's something that happens over time, and the thickness can reveal whether or not the baby is ready to come out.
16 Heartburn? that means the baby hasn't dropped yet
One of the worst symptoms of late pregnancy — really any part of pregnancy — is the heartburn that can torture a woman after every meal and sometimes all night long. The condition can start because pregnancy hormones slow down digestion, but they get infinitely worse in the third trimester, when the uterus pushes the stomach closer up the esophagus. Some women can't lay down to sleep at night because of the pain.
As long as a woman is having terrible heartburn, her baby isn't ready to come out. In the days before labor, when the baby drops, the mom has some relief because the stomach can drop down a bit, just enough to allow her to try some spicy food to help kickstart the contractions.
15 Negative Amniotic Test
There is one surefire way to tell that the baby is on the way — if the water has broken. Doctors almost always allow for the baby to be born if the water has broken unless the milestone happens really early, because there is a potential of infection if the baby isn't born soon. But the truth is that it can be a little tough to figure out if the water has broken at times — sometimes, moms might have just accidentally leaked a little urine. Luckily there is a test that can determine if it is amniotic fluid or not.
A negative test means that the bag of waters is still intact, and the test can even say whether or not the labor is likely to begin in the next day or two. It's a safeguard that can help a woman feel a little at ease that the baby isn't ready to come yet.
14 if labor is early, the Baby's Lungs may not be Ready yet
When contractions come early — a month or more before the due date — doctors worry that the baby's lungs aren't ready to work well outside of the womb. They may try to stop the labor or at least delay it for a bit so the lungs are given a chance to get better.
Doctors have found that they can give the baby's lungs a chance to expand by giving steroids before the birth. If needed, they will try magnesium to stop the labor, at least long enough to give the steroids a chance to work. The baby isn't ready yet, even though the labor is imminent.
13 if the Suppositories Don't Work
We mentioned earlier that the cervix has to thin out before it can begin its job of dilating. But sometimes doctors believe the baby needs to be born soon. That can be true if the baby is having a complication, such as if it has stopped growing, or if the mom has a condition like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes where stillbirth can happen if the delivery doesn't happen soon.
If the cervix is still thick, doctors will place a special suppository to try to get the cervix to thin out. That usually is administered overnight with the hopes of inducing in the morning. But sometimes the suppositories don't work, and that might mean the baby isn't ready to come out. The mom and the doctor will have to weigh the risks and rewards of waiting or going ahead and getting the baby out via C-section, and that can be tricky. Most of the time, though, things work out just fine.
12 Hips Don't Lie: before birth there's pressure on the hips
When it comes to whether or not the baby is ready to come out, Shakira taught us one truth — the hips don't lie. Some women can feel pressure in their hips for a few weeks before the birth, but most women don't struggle that much with walking until the baby is getting close to the birth.
When the baby drops, the pressure on the hips can be pretty intense. The hormone relaxin allows for the ligaments in the pelvis to loosen for the birth, and right before that happens, it can make is really hard on the back and the hips. Many women waddle in the third trimester, but it goes to all new levels just before the birth. If the hips are still feeling pretty good, that probably means the baby isn't ready to come out.
11 Have You Drained The Mucus Plug?
There are lots of signals of labor that can be difficult to figure out, and the mucus plug can be one of the worst. Some women have a pretty obvious bloody show, but for most it's a little harder to figure out. The bloody show is also known as the mucus plug, and it's basically a thick discharge, sometime with a tinge of blood, that is a sign that the cervix is getting ready for show time.
Without the bloody show, it's possible that it could be a while until the baby is ready to be born. Unfortunately, many women just miss that symptom all together. They might not know whether or not the mucus plug has come out or not, which makes it harder to figure out when the baby is ready to come out.
10 if you're no longer plugged up, it may be time
Constipation is a bit of a constant when you are pregnant. It might not be bad, but digestion slows up because of pregnancy hormones, so things tend to be infrequent and a little bit harder than usual. Right before the delivery, many moms end up having diarrhea, which helps clear up their system for the moment when they have to push (which helps them avoid the embarrassment of pooping on the delivery table). So that means your bathroom activities can indicate if the baby is ready to come out or not.
It might be a bit gross to think about, but until you reach the diarrhea stage, the baby probably isn't ready to come out yet. It's just another indication that can help you figure out what is coming next.
9 the First Baby Often Late
You might have noticed that we didn't include the due date on this list. It might be a guide, but it isn't really a sign of when the baby will actually be ready to come out. Only a tiny fraction of women go into labor on their due date; for most first time moms, the contractions usually don't start for a few days or even a week or two afterward.
The reason that first babies typically come later is because the body hasn't been through the process before, and it takes a little longer to go through things. But that doesn't mean that the second baby will necessarily come sooner than the first one did. Each pregnancy is different, and due dates don't really matter at all.
8 are the contractions painful? if not, they're just braxton-hicks
When women begin to feel something in their uterus, they automatically think that labor has begun. But the truth is that women can feel contractions for a long time before they are actually considered in labor. There are some women who go through false contractions, which are known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, and that can fool them into thinking things have begun.
There is one way to tell if the contractions are real — are they painful? Braxton-Hicks contractions aren't painful. Most women describe them as just a tightening, which can be unpleasant and off-putting, but they don't hurt. Without the pain, that means the baby isn't ready to come out yet.
7 if you still Can't Breathe, it's because the baby hasn't dropped
You would think that something as simple as breathing wouldn't be that hard when you are pregnant, but in your third trimester, especially, it can become a real issue. From the beginning, women might find themselves getting out of breath on the stairs or doing activities, since she's having to draw in more oxygen for the little one. And things can get worse as the bump gets bigger.
If mama can't breathe, that probably means that the baby is still high up against the diaphragm. It'll be easier to get a breath when the baby has dropped, and the labor is closer, but if mama can't get a deep breath, then it's probably not time for the baby to come out.
6 Doctor Recommends Bed Rest
Sometimes the body starts labor too early, and doctors want to do everything they can to stop the situation until the baby is more ready for the birth. That can be really scary, and depending on how early it happens, that might me a long period of worry. Many doctors end up recommending that women go on bed rest because the baby isn't ready to come out yet, and they want to do all that they can to prevent it.
Bed rest can be very difficult, but it's only recommended when the mom's or the baby's health is at issue. We believe that women should take it seriously and try to relax to allow the baby enough time to gain more strength and health.
5 Bedroom Fun doesn't get anything started
There are some things that are recommended for women who are overdue because they could help induce labor naturally. One of those is doing the deed — but doctors rarely recommend stopping doing the funky monkey during the third trimester unless there is a risk or the mom is on restrictions such as bed rest. That's because being with a partner can work, but only if the baby is ready.
It's perfectly OK for a woman to continue her relationships until the doctor says otherwise. It might be a while after the birth for the two to get close like that, so they should take advantage of their alone time while they can. And if contractions start, that probably means the baby is ready.
4 The Sac Heals Up
There are things that doctors can do to try to slow down or even stop contractions, but once the amniotic sac bursts, there is little the doctors can do. That can be really scary if the membranes rupture prematurely, since most babies cannot survive if they are born before the six month mark. Babies who are born so prematurely can have some severe worries for months after the birth, as well as long-lasting health complications, so sometimes doctors try to wait even after the sac has ruptured, until an infection sets in and the baby has to be delivered.
Sometimes, the doctors may only be able to delay the delivery for a couple of days. But there are a few miracle cases where the amniotic sac heals on its own, and the baby replenishes her amniotic fluid. It doesn't happen often, but it is possible, and that is a sign that the baby wasn't ready yet and will be a lot healthier when it is time.
3 Doctor Sends Mom On A Walk
When labor does begin, it can still be a while until the baby is ready to come out. It can take days — maybe even a week —after the first signs of contractions for the baby to be born, and one of the signals is when the doctor sends mom out for a walk. That can happen if a woman arrives at the hospital in early labor but things haven't progressed to the point where the hospital will admit the mom-to-be.
Early labor can be such a long drawn out experience, and women need to have regular contractions at a close interval before the hospital will consider admitting her. Usually, that means they also want the cervix to have begun dilating as well. Taking a walk can help move things along, but it might take a while before the baby is ready to come out.
2 Something pink and thick comes out before birth
If a woman pays attention to her discharge she can figure out a lot about her body, whether she is pregnant or not. The discharge changes during ovulation and prior to menstruation, and when she gets pregnant, there are even more signals that she can figure out if she pays attention.
Many women have heard of the bloody show, but very few women actually see blood before the birth. It's a lot more likely that a mom will experience a heavier, thicker discharge. It might be pink or totally clear, but it can be a sign that things are getting close. Without that, it's likely that the baby isn't ready to come out after all.
1 Reaching 37 Weeks, At Least
While babies might come at any point in the third trimester, if it comes before 37 weeks, the baby isn't really ready. Moms are considered full term once they reach the 37 week mark, although research has proven that if the baby can make it to 39 weeks, it gives the lungs and the brain a higher chance at being fully developed and healthy.
There is a big difference in a baby born at 28 weeks versus one born at 32 weeks versus 36 weeks versus 40 weeks. A preemie might have problems with sight, learning disabilities and health ailments such as asthma or worse.Reaching that 37 week mark gives the baby a much better chance at a healthy start to life, and that can mean so much for a new mom.
References: Health Day