After nine months or so of pregnancy, the big moment when the baby comes is at the forefront of a woman's mind. But figuring out when that time will come is more difficult than some people might imagine. A woman's body is going through so many changes all the time during pregnancy, so it can be difficult to pinpoint what ache, pain, or symptom might mean that the baby is ready for the birth.
It's not just about the contractions either, although the contractions can be confusing in and of themselves, moms can know the birth is imminent based on what is going on in the bathroom or with their skin. While things start to thin out below, they might start leaking up top.
Some of these signs don't necessarily send a woman to the hospital right then, but they can let her know it's time to get her bags packed and her birth plan ready. But since labor can be an extended period of time, we have some other signs that could let a frustrated laboring mom know that she will soon meet her little one because the birth is coming soon.
Here are 20 physical signs the baby wants to come out now.
20 When Mom Feels A Splash
A lot of women expect their labor to begin with a big splash when the water breaks. But that isn't often the case. For most women, the amniotic sac doesn't break until well into the labor process, and it sometimes even stays in place and the baby is born inside.
Once the water does break, that usually means it's go time. Women can spend days in early labor, but if their water breaks things usually speed up quickly. Because of the risk of infection, doctors usually put a time limit of 24 hours on mothers, so it might mean induction as well.
19 Breaking Out Like A Teenager
Hormones can be an issue for moms-to-be from the very beginning. And just before the pregnancy ends, they can rear their ugly little heads again and have a full grown adult breaking out like a teenager.
Hormonal fluctuations are what can actually trigger the mom to go into labor, as the body starts to prepare to give birth and to make milk and all the other changes that happen. It's not always going to happen, but for women who notice some pimples on their face or other parts of the body, the skin issues can truly indicate that the hormones are changing and the baby is coming out soon.
18 A Sign In The Bathroom
Things can get interesting in the bathroom right before the baby comes out. It's not always so pleasant for a mom-to-be, but it's true for most women — and you'll actually be thankful later on.
Many pregnant women suffer from constipation for months because pregnancy hormones can slow digestion. But at the end, the hormones change, and many women have a bout of diarrhea. That is a good thing in the end because it can clear the bowels for the big event and make it less likely that the mom goes number two during the delivery. So don't get upset if you get an upset tummy.
17 Nesting Instinct Kicks Into High Gear
A lot of women have a nesting instinct during pregnancy, and that can help them get prepared for the little one's arrival by setting up the nursery and starting to make sure the house is germ-free and baby-proofed. But let's face it; pregnancy can be exhausting and it can be hard to get the energy.
One interesting symptom that the baby's birth is imminent is that the mom's nesting instinct can kick into overdrive. It's partly hormonal, but moms can get a burst of determination and energy that helps them get the job done just in time. All that cleaning and vacuuming might help get the contractions going, too.
16 Mama Can Breathe Easier
Everything can be more difficult during the third trimester of pregnancy — even taking a breath can be harder than a mom might expect. That's because the baby isn't just providing pressure on the mom's bladder but also pushing up into her lungs in the last couple of months.
But when it's close to the end, the baby will drop down closer to the birth canal, and that means that the diaphragm gets a break. Mamas can breathe a little easier after the baby drops, so that is a sign to watch out for to know that the labor is going to begin soon.
15 Things Start Thinning Out
Most moms think of contractions as the start of their body's work to get the baby out. But the contractions usually start the process of dilating the cervix. That area of the body first has a lot of thinning to do to get ready for birth.
During the pregnancy, the cervix is thick to make sure that the baby is protected. The doctor will check the area in the last month or so of pregnancy, and they will report if the cervix is beginning to thin out. It can still take some time, but knowing that things have gotten started can make all the difference for a mom in the making.
14 Reaching 40 Weeks Or So
A woman's due date isn't necessarily the day that the baby is going to be born, but that doesn't mean that a woman shouldn't pay attention to it. Her doctor is certainly going to keep the due date in mind when he is giving recommendations about the birth plan, especially if there are any complications.
For example, the due date will be discussed if labor starts early, so he can decide if any treatment is needed to delay things. And there are risks of stillbirth after 39 weeks for women with gestational diabetes and other issues, so induction might be brought up during that last month as well.
13 Leaking Up Top
A lot of women might expect to go through leaking after they have a baby, especially in those first few weeks postpartum. But there is also a possibility that women could start leaking up top even before they have the baby — and that's a sign that the birth is coming soon.
A woman's body prepares for motherhood by making milk in those last weeks before the birth. It's usually not a lot of milk, and it's more likely to be a problem for experienced women. But it's a good idea to go ahead and buy a few pads to use before the birth in case things start leaking out earlier than expected.
12 The Waves Never End
A lot of women have contractions in the third trimester. That can make it hard to figure out when the real labor begins, but Braxton Hicks—which are also called practice contractions—are pretty common. They can come in waves, but they tend to only happen for a short time.
Things change when the waves never stop. That means that the contractions are actually doing their job and starting the baby on his journey into the birth canal. So if women have regular contractions for more than an hour that are 10 minutes apart or less, it's time to start heading to the hospital because the baby's ready to come out.
11 Really Bad Backaches
In the third trimester, backaches are common. A huge baby bump can be hard to carry around, especially as the due date gets closer. But if the backache gets really bad, that could be a sign that the baby is about to come.
If the baby is turned around to face the mom's tummy, then the mom could feel her labor in her back instead of in her belly. Some moms say that back labor is worse than regular contractions. Thankfully, many times the baby spins and things progress in the more usual way, and the annoying backache goes away — and the baby comes very soon.
10 Too Many Trips To The Bathroom
Pregnant women tend to get really comfortable with the bathroom early on since early hormones can make her race to the toilet with an urge to go number one. Frequent urination returns in the third trimester, when the baby is sitting on the mom's bladder.
But if that weren't enough, the hormonal changes that happen just prior to the birth can cause the mom to rush to the toilet again. Some women might not notice that their trips are more frequent — or they might just think it's part of the pregnancy. But if they find themselves going even more than ever, the baby is close to his arrival.
9 The Tell-Tale Waddle
Walking can be a struggle for a mom-to-be, especially in the third trimester. But when the baby drops and the labor is imminent, the waddle can really come out. It's a physical sign that anyone can notice and know that the pregnancy has reached the point of no return.
The waddle happens because the baby is down low in the belly, and the mom has to push out her pelvis to try to relieve the pressure on her back and her legs. It can be really awkward for the mom, and those around her will definitely notice and know that the baby is ready to come out.
8 A Show Down Below
When the mom's labor is imminent, she could find a sign of things getting going in her underpants. That's because a woman's discharge can increase dramatically in the weeks before the delivery.
On top of that, there is a mucus plug that protects the baby during pregnancy but that comes out before the birth. Some women don't notice the mucus plug, which can be clear or yellowish, but sometimes it can be red. That might be a little alarming, but it's just a sign that things are progressing. It could be a couple more weeks, but the baby is coming soon.
7 Bowling Ball Effect
Having a baby can make it difficult to walk, as we've mentioned before. But the biggest problem happens when the baby lowers down into the pelvis, as it gets closer to the birth canal and closer to the delivery.
Some women feel like they have a bowling ball in their belly. It can be a lot of pressure, and while it no longer feels so bad on the top of the body, it can put a lot of pain into the pelvis and even the legs. Usually, though, that only lasts a number of days or so, and then the baby arrives.
6 The Pressure Rises
Women end up with higher BP during pregnancy often because the amount of fluids in the body increases dramatically when there is a baby on board. There is a possibility that the pressure could rise to dangerous levels, though, so doctors are certain to monitor their patients as closely as possible, especially in the third trimester.
A spike in BP can be a signal that the mom is going through preeclampsia, a potentially fatal complication, the only way to resolve that issue is to deliver the baby, so the doctor might recommend induction or a C-section right away if the pressure spikes. A speedy delivery is necessary so that the mom and baby can be saved.
5 Getting All Shaky
There are a lot of times when a woman doesn't feel her best during pregnancy. But if she starts to feel shaky in the final weeks before the due date, that could be a sign that the baby is about to come out.
Some women experience dizziness in the final stages of their pregnancy, especially when they stand up. Others might get uncontrollable shaking and they can't help but wonder why. It's because pregnancy hormones are getting the body ready for the big event of childbirth, and it's likely that their baby will come within days of feeling those strange, unexpected symptoms.
4 Pet Detective
Sometimes a mom feels like she has no idea when her baby will actually make his debut, which can be really frustrating at 39 weeks and beyond. But one physical sign can come from inside the home. She only has to look to her pet to know if the labor is coming soon.
Dogs, cats—even dolphins—are known to pick up on pregnancy and act differently before a woman even knows that she is with child. Research has also proven that a dog or cat will ask differently just prior to the start as labor as well. Doctors don't know if the clues involve a woman's scent or what, but it's true that the pet knows before anyone else.
3 More Than Just Swollen Feet
Swelling can be a fact of life in the third trimester for some women. They can carry several pounds more all over their body, and that might be even more evident after a long day on her feet. But if the selling goes even more extreme, it can be a sign of a problem that might lead to an early delivery. The mom might have preeclampsia, which is marked by high BP and sudden swelling. Preeclampsia means the baby needs to be delivered right away — so whether the mom has a C-section or induces contractions, the baby is definitely coming soon.
2 Doctor Starts Gloving Up
The earliest stages of labor can be long and frustrating. For first time moms, especially, the natural progression can take up to 12 or even 24 hours or more, which sounds like a full-time job.
In most hospital births, the doctor won't spend much time with a woman until she gets to the end of the active labor process. He might check in now and then, but only when a woman gets really close to 10 centimeters will he start to glove up and stick around for a while. That's a surefire sign that the labor is reaching the final stage before the birth.
1 A Crown Fit For A Prince Or Princess
There are times during a woman's labor—sometimes even in the pushing phase—when it seems like the baby is never going to come out. But the signal that it will all be over soon is when the baby crowns.
Some babies slip back in a few times in between pushes, but knowing that the baby is crowning can often give the mom the boost the mom needs to get through those last big pushes. Once the head is out, it can take a few pushes to get the shoulders free, and soon enough, the baby will be in his mother's arms.