Many of us have a certain idea about labor that begins with water breaking unexpectedly and gushing down, along with strong contractions starting out of the blue. This idea mostly comes from movies and TV shows featuring pregnant women; but, as they do with many other things, movies and shows don't tell the whole truth about labor and delivery. Cinema misses out on a huge number of other signs and symptoms that can take place days or even weeks before the labor begins.
Since each and every woman has an individual organism and isn't completely similar to anyone else's, these signs are different for every mom-to-be. If some women have insomnia right before labor, others start sleeping more than ever. While there are mommies who have the appetite of a wolf, there are also some who don't feel like eating at all.
But one thing about all the possible signs and symptoms of looming labor remains the same: all pregnant women need to know about them and prepare for them. In this case, sudden nausea, loose stools, bladder issues, or discharge from down there shouldn't make a mom freak out just yet. On the contrary, moms may feel happier about having these signs because they'll know they signify that they're going to see their bundle of joy very, very soon!
20 The 'Show' Begins... Or Unplugs
According to Liz Halliday, who works as a Deputy Head of Midwifery, the show is "the mucus plug that seals your cervix internally." She goes on to explain, "As your cervix softens and prepares for labor, the show can come away and you might find it when you visit the toilet. It might come away in small clear bits or it could be streaked with [plasma] and be quite stringy."
However, if you notice that it happens at some point, you shouldn't immediately rush to the hospital. The show can sometimes appear up to two weeks before labor begins. So if you see it, get ready to see your bundle of joy, but don't be in too much of a hurry.
19 Breathing Can Become Easier
When you're pregnant, you might get used to huffing and puffing most of the time. After all, you have to carry so much more than normal — your growing baby, the amniotic fluid, etc. Sometimes, you can get tired even after a short walk to the bathroom. But as your labor approaches, you will notice that your breathing becomes easier.
It happens, because at the final stages of pregnancy the baby drops into the mommy's pelvis, which reduces the pressure on her diaphragm and gives more room for her lungs to expand. So you'll finally be able to take even longer walks without feeling out of breath. Besides, you can also notice that you feel lighter. Isn't it nice?
18 Dreams Of Labor
As their due date approaches, some women might begin seeing dreams about labor. Even though it sounds incredible, a number of moms-to-be have reported that they saw dreams of their water breaking to wake up and see that their water actually broke. Others dreamed of having contractions and, upon waking up, they'd notice that their labor began and their sensations were completely similar to what they felt in the dream.
Sure, science says that it's a mere coincidence and dreams of labor take place only because the mommy thinks a lot about it. But isn't it our right to believe that they indicate that we'll soon see our little one for the first time?
17 Take Notice Of Lower Back Cramps
It isn't correct to think that labor always starts in the abdomen. Sometimes, due to an unusual position of a fetus, it begins with lower back cramps. Lee Schofield, family doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, shares with Today's Parent, "If the uterus is pushing against the spine because the baby is in a different position, you will experience more back labor."
But then again, experiencing back pain shouldn't be a reason for an immediate hospital visit. Liz Halliday advises that it's better to use "a warm water bottle or TENS machine (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machine)" to "ease these sensations while you wait for labor to start."
16 Body Posture Changes
By the end of your pregnancy period, you might notice that your body posture changes, at least a little bit. According to Mother-Top, it happens because your uterus comes to a lower position and your center of gravity changes. As a result, you will see that you have this proud look characteristic of a woman near her time. You will be standing and walking with your head slightly thrown backward and your gait will become "duck-like."
This period is high time for a pregnancy photo shoot, because this special look will make you glow! So as soon as you or your partner notices that you get this proud mommy posture, find a good photographer.
15 The Baby Will Be Dropping
As we've mentioned before, when your baby is getting ready to come out of your body, it is moving lower into your pelvis. This natural process is known as "lightening."
It doesn't only have some consequences that you can physically feel, but it also slightly changes the way you look. According to Live Science, your belly will appear lower and protrude more. So be prepared for the people who see you to exclaim something like, "Hey, looks like your baby has dropped! You must be due very soon."
Please note that, according to Mayo Clinic, lightening may "happen anywhere from a few weeks to a few hours before labor begins."
14 Swollen Lips
One of the most unusual signs that labor is about to begin sometime soon is the lips that look and feel like they're swollen. Even though there's no scientifically proven correlation between the two, a lot of women share that they experienced plumper lips right before labor.
For example, a mom on The Bump tells, "Pregnancy face is one of my telltale signs that I'm almost done. My lips are a little bigger already and I know my face has filled out quite a bit as well." Another lady on Baby Center shares, "I remember hearing about this with my last pregnancy. I kept checking but once I was in labor I forgot to check. However, I did notice that in the baby pictures from the next day (with both) my lips were in fact bigger. So I'm guessing it must be hormonal."
13 Pets Can Feel The Baby Coming
It's curious that even though you usually have no idea when exactly your baby will want to come out, your pet might know it much better. Liz Halliday, an experienced midwife, says that "pets often seem to know when a baby is coming and will have a distinct change in behavior. A cuddly pet might suddenly leave you alone, whereas a pet who has been a bit stand-offish during pregnancy might be found constantly at your side."
So if the behavior of your fluffy friend suddenly changes, you might guess that it feels that the new member of the family is coming very soon.
See, domestic animals are truly wise beings!
12 Bladder Issues
Approaching the end of your pregnancy period, you'll probably notice that you need to visit the toilet more and more often than usual. It happens, because your baby is dropping lower into your pelvis and the pressure on your bladder increases. Sometimes it might even seem that this little guy decided to perform a dance on your bladder to make you want to pee even more.
So, wherever you go at this stage, ensure that you'll always have a restroom to use as soon as you need it. After all, you don't need any more discomfort than what you already have, right?
11 The Return Of Morning Sickness
Do you think you're done with morning sickness in the first trimester of pregnancy? Well, it's possible that it'll strike again right before you meet your bundle of joy for the first time. According to Sutter Health, many women experience nausea and vomiting only one or two days before labor.
However, it doesn't mean that the same thing will happen to you. Since every woman has a unique organism, pregnancy will take its individual course in each case. Some moms-to-be will experience the final stand of morning sickness even earlier, while others might not experience it at all.
Whatever the case for you, remember that nausea probably means that your little one is on the way and talk to your ob-gyn if you have any concerns.
10 Expect Loose Stools, Too
But nausea and vomiting aren't the only things that can happen before labor. Such tummy issues as loose stools are also a frequent sign. Deena Blumenfeld, a childbirth educator in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and founder of Shining Light Prenatal, explains to Cafe Mom, "It happens because a spike in the hormone progesterone loosens up the bowels." (Fun fact: this is also why we experience looser stools during menstrual periods!).
Adding to the explanation, Liz Halliday notices on Cosmopolitan that this process can also be connected to the body wanting to "clear itself out" before labor. Besides, Today's Parents says that it can be connected to the fact that all muscles need to loosen as labor approaches and rectal muscles are no exception.
9 Flu-Like Signs
Another not so pleasant sign that your big day is coming nearer and nearer is flu-like symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing.
As with many other things that happen before labor, it's still not clear why these symptoms take place (and, of course, they don't occur with every pregnant woman). Sometimes, they're somehow connected with hormonal changes, just like the previously mentioned nausea and loose stools. Whatever the reason, you should be ready for them and, to avoid any possible issues, you need to consult with your doctor if any flu-like signs start to manifest and especially if they continue for more than one or two days. Better safe than sorry, right?
8 Change In Size Is Also Possible
To your surprise, you might notice that your size becomes just a bit smaller before your labor day comes. It doesn't change drastically of course, and perhaps you'll notice only a one- to two-kilo drop. Specialists on Mother-Top say that it can be explained by the reduction of swelling in your body.
To notice this change, you don't have to monitor your shape on a daily basis. Even such simple thing as the absence of distinct marks your socks used to leave on your ankles can tell you that something is changing in your body and the day you'll see your bundle of joy is rapidly approaching.
7 Appetite Can Get Even Weirder
Not that your appetite never was strange during pregnancy, of course, but at the latest stages you might expect it to get even weirder. Like most other things, it happens differently for every woman. Some moms-to-be, who have been eating for two during their entire pregnancy, lose their appetite and don't want to eat even their favorite foods. But in other cases, a woman's appetite can get a new spike days before labor begins.
Both are completely normal, so you should just need to listen to what your body is telling you and act accordingly. And if you have any questions about your pre-labor nutrition, be sure to talk to your OBGYN.
6 The Baby's Activity Changes
As your labor approaches, another thing that you might notice is the change in your baby's motor activity. In particular, you will see that it begins acting erratically at one point, or moving strongly and actively, but then it subsides and remains calm for some time. And then again sharp activity begins, and the cycle moves on.
Another thing that can happen at this stage is the complete change in your baby's activity. For example, if your little one was active during the earlier stages, it might suddenly become calmer. And vice versa — a calm fetus may begin moving much more actively in your uterus.
5 Nesting Instincts Break In
Approaching the latest stages of pregnancy, you might have noticed the change in your behavior. We're talking about the so-called "nesting instincts" that are particularly noticeable right before labor begins.
"Although most women experience some nesting in late pregnancy, this may intensify in the days before the baby is born," Liz Halliday confirms. "If you find yourself cleaning the lightbulbs, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’ve got everything ready for labor!"
Specialists on Mayo Clinic say that this increased energy level and eagerness to do household chores are completely normal. You just need to avoid wearing yourself out and preserve this energy for labor.
4 Changes In The Cervix
As we all know, the cervix is rapidly dilating during labor. But few of us are aware of the fact that it begins dilating even before the active stages of contractions and childbirth. According to Lee Schofield, "You can be two centimeters dilated for weeks without getting contractions."
So don't get too excited if your ob-gyn says that you're a few centimeters dilated on a routine visit. It doesn't mean that your labor has already begun because initially, changes in cervical dilation are very slow. The process will become faster at the active stage of labor, which is considered to begin only when you're four centimeters dilated.
3 Emotions Will Kick In
The entire pregnancy is an incredibly emotional period, but at its final stages, the mom-to-be might notice that she became even moodier. According to Mother-Top, some women may experience emotional roller-coaster with joy, tears, irritation, alertness, calm, apathy, and incredible activity unexpectedly interchanging each other at an incredible speed.
"As hormones rise in preparation for labor, women might experience an emotional response which can manifest in tears, anger or simply feeling down," Liz Halliday notes on Cosmopolitan. "This is perfectly normal and can often be helped with a bit of TLC. However, if a low mood is ongoing, do call your maternity health care provider for advice."
2 Lack Of Sleep
At times, sleepless nights at the final stages of pregnancy can be explained by the growing discomfort. But in some cases, a woman feels quite comfortable, but still can't fall asleep. There's an opinion that it means that the baby is getting ready to come out and begin to keep its mamma awake.
Nevertheless, science still doesn't understand why some women experience insomnia before labor. Can it be the way of Mother Nature to prepare us for sleepless nights with the newborn baby? Perhaps it is, but we're still not sure why it happens, especially since the mom needs so much energy before labor.
1 ... Or Too Much Sleep
On the other hand, some women experience extreme sleepiness and fatigue instead of insomnia as their labor approaches. This change can't be thoroughly explained by the modern science, as well, but we can assume that your body will want to catch more Zs and have more naps to prepare and get as much rest as possible before the big day comes.
If you ask me, it's much more logical to want to sleep more before labor. After all, we'll have all the sleepless nights we want (and more) after the baby is born, won't we? Shouldn't we get as much sleep as we can before then?