During the first two trimesters of any pregnancy, the mom-to-be is usually enjoying the process of preparing for the baby’s arrival, while simultaneously dealing with some side effects like morning sickness.
But as the third trimester approaches, reality starts to set in: yup, there’s really going to be a whole new little person in the household, and it’s time to make sure that everything is ready for when the baby comes. And before that, pregnant women have to understand the signs that labor is coming on—no one wants to be caught off guard and realize that those cramps they were trying to ignore were actually a clear sign that the baby is ready to come into this world.
For first time moms, figuring out what’s actually a labor sign and what’s just a false alarm can be confusing. But it’s okay—every mom has been there at some point, and midwives and doctors know just how tricky it can be. There are a few significant signs that women can learn to look out for so they will know when the baby is on its way. If she has 10 of these 20 signs, then labor is getting close.
20 The Baby “Drops” Into A Lower Position
When the baby “drops” into a lower position, this is one of the clearest signs that everything is progressing as normal, and that labor is probably right around the corner—but it doesn’t mean the baby is going to make an appearance right away.
According to The Bump, babies naturally will shift into a lower position in the pelvis as the body prepares to give birth. A pregnant woman will generally be able to feel the difference in position, and this shift can result in some other subsequent signs that labor is getting closer and closer with each passing day.
19 You’re Starting To Feel More Cramps
Yes, cramping and feeling discomfort in the lower back and stomach can be a normal part of pregnancy—but according to What to Expect, as the due date draws closer, pregnant women will generally feel more intense cramps. They might feel like the kind of cramps you get at “that time of the month,” but they’ll come on even stronger.
Why does this occur? It’s just another example of the body getting ready to shift from “pregnancy mode” into labor. But it does not mean that you have to go rushing to the hospital right at the moment—they’re not contractions.
18 Your Lower Back Hurts Persistently
Unfortunately, those cramps aren’t the only sign that labor might only be a few days away—persistent lower back pain is another major sign. According to WebMD, not all women will experience this, and for some, it is more uncomfortable than others.
This is because sometimes when the baby “drops,” they can put more pressure on the lower back and spine, depending on what position they end up in. If you can’t seem to get rid of that lower back pain, it might be a good idea to just let your doctor or midwife know—it could be an important detail.
17 Your Joints Feel Looser And Relaxed
This might sound like a pretty odd labor sign—but it’s real! According to Baby Centre, women who are about to go into labor within a few days to a week might find that they suddenly feel less stiffness in their joints. This is because of hormonal changes occurring in the body that can help you lose some tension in your muscles and ligaments.
Yes, pregnancy definitely changes the body in some pretty interesting and unexpected ways! So if you suddenly feel more flexible, it could be because the baby is almost ready to be officially welcomed into the world.
16 Your Figure Will Stop Expanding
During pregnancy, gaining more than a few pounds is absolutely normal and healthy. After all, you need to eat some extra nutrients to accommodate that little human. In this case, going up a few pants sizes is great. According to Mama Natural, eventually the mom-to-be will notice that the number on the scale does not seem to be changing anymore.
Once the body is totally prepared and ready to bring the baby out into the world, pregnant women will generally notice that they don’t need new maternity clothes anymore. But those cravings will not go away just yet!
15 You Might Even Notice That You’re Smaller
According to What to Expect, it’s typically considered normal to gain between 28 to 35 pounds during pregnancy—perhaps a little more or less is fine, too. But what if you notice that you’ve suddenly lost a couple pounds during those last few weeks of the third trimester? Does that mean that something is wrong?
Nope, it usually means that everything is going just fine, actually. It’s normal to notice a little drop on the scale in the days leading up to labor. It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s just another sign that the baby is finally on its way.
14 You Feel Even More Tired Than Usual
Yes, being tired throughout pregnancy is the norm for a lot of women—according to Mumsnet, most women say that they feel decreased energy levels, especially first time moms during the first trimester. But during the third trimester, that exhaustion can go to a whole new level.
And let’s face it, it’s not just the fact that the body is getting ready for labor—it’s also because moving around when your bump is so much bigger can feel like a chore in itself! So feel free to rest up and go easy on yourself—your body definitely needs the extra downtime.
13 You Get The Urge To “Nest”
So, what is this “nesting” instinct that mothers talk about? Is it real, or is it a myth? According to Wellness Mama, the urge to nest at the end of the third trimester is very real! And whether there’s a biological reason for it or not, many women do experience it.
Basically, a pregnant woman who is nearing the end of her third trimester might feel like she has to clean the whole house, make her space perfect, and then simply relax and wait for the baby to arrive. It’s like building a comfy little nest for the new baby.
12 You Have Indigestion
According to Mom Junction, it’s very common for women to experience indigestion throughout pregnancy, so this isn’t always a labor sign—but if you weren’t experiencing it before, or it suddenly seems to get more intense and uncomfortable, it could be a little clue that labor is going to start soon. This is because the baby is shifting its position, which could cause pressure on different parts of the digestive system.
Yup, when it comes to pregnancy, every little thing is connected, and a change in the baby’s movements can end up causing other symptoms, especially in the third trimester.
11 You Get A Sudden Burst Of Energy After Weeks Of Exhaustion
Yes, it’s totally normal to feel exhausted during the third trimester—but what if you suddenly start to feel differently? What if you notice that you have a sudden burst of energy after weeks of feeling like you would rather just lay on the couch and do nothing? According to What to Expect, this is perfectly normal, and it could also be a sign that the baby is ready to make its entrance to the world!
Sometimes, women notice that they have a lot more energy before going into labor—it could be your body just gearing up for the process.
10 You Start Getting Frequent Braxton Hicks Contractions
According to Mayo Clinic, Braxton Hicks contractions can really occur at any point during the third trimester, and these false contractions feel more like a mild cramp. They can be startling at first, but women generally get used to them despite the fact that they can be uncomfortable.
However, as labor gets closer, these false contractions can become more and more frequent, and when a woman notices them happening more often, it could be a sign that real contractions will begin within the next couple of days. Consider them a little clue from your body that the baby is almost here.
9 You Start Feeling Nauseas
Yes, nausea is a common issue for women during the first trimester—nobody likes to deal with morning sickness, and for some women, it’s not just confined to the morning! According to The Bump, if you start to experience nausea again towards the end of the third trimester, it’s quite possibly a sign that the baby is on its way.
Once again, this can occur because as the baby changes positions, it can affect the digestive system. It can be frustrating to experience this symptom all over again, but now, you know it’s only going to be for a short time.
8 It’s Difficult To Fall Asleep
According to What to Expect, many women find that they have increasing difficulty falling asleep towards the end of the third trimester. This occurs for a variety of reasons: the increased feelings of nausea and indigestion, the cramps and lower back pain that can keep you up or make it hard to get comfortable, that baby bump making it necessary for you to sleep on your side, the worries about the baby coming.
Look, it’s safe to say that having trouble sleeping in the third trimester is normal, and if these factors are keeping you up, the baby might arrive soon.
7 You Have To Use The Bathroom More Often
Every pregnant woman knows that a baby can apply pressure in all the wrong places, and suddenly, just having one glass of water can have you running to the bathroom! According to What to Expect, this feeling can get even worse the closer you are to labor! Once again, this is caused by the shifting position of the baby as the body prepares for the labor process. But here’s the good thing—soon, you won’t have that feeling anymore.
Once the baby is out, you will definitely have some relief, and you won’t be rushing to the bathroom all the time.
6 You Can Take Deeper Breaths As The Baby Shifts
As you near the end of the third trimester, you might find yourself being able to breathe a little easier—and no, it’s not just a sigh of relief because you know that soon, you won’t have a big baby bump! According to WebMD, the shifting position of the baby as you get closer to labor actually relieves some of the pressure on your lungs.
When you are carrying the baby lower, your lungs can actually expand to a greater capacity. So take a deep breath—the baby is doing great, and the finish line is definitely in sight now!
5 You Have An Even Bigger Appetite
Early on in the first trimester when those pregnancy cravings start, you might think that there is just no way you could have a bigger appetite than you already do! Well, you might be wrong about that—according to Mama Natural, it’s very common for women to feel even hungrier as labor gets closer!
It is probably fairly easy to see why this happens—obviously, the whole process of labor takes a lot out of you, so you need to be eating plenty of nutritious, healthy foods in order to prepare. Plus, your body will need to replenish nutrients after.
4 You’re Experiencing Intense Mood Swings
Hormone levels will change depending on the stage of pregnancy, and every woman knows that changing hormones can cause changing moods! According to Mom Junction, rapid mood swings towards the end of the third trimester could be an indication that you’re getting closer to labor.
As the body starts getting you ready to give birth, your hormone levels are going to change accordingly, and that might mean that you’re extremely happy one second and down in the dumps the next. It can feel like a rollercoaster, but it’s perfectly normal to go through all of these mood swings before labor.
3 Contractions Are Five Minutes Apart Or Less
If a pregnant woman begins experiencing contractions every five minutes or less, it’s definitely time to call the doctor—according to Today’s Parent, that means that labor has definitely begun, and the baby is on the way! Now, this does not mean that the baby is going to arrive right away—for a first time mom, it can take a full day or two to go through labor.
But for a woman who has already had a baby, labor might only take a couple hours. That’s why it’s important to go ahead and make that call if the timing is right!
2 You Start Sweating And Feel Warmer
Here’s one small way that labor affects your whole body—according to WebMD, your body temperature will go up slightly because of all the effort you’ve got to put in during childbirth! This is not really a surprise—after all, they call it labor because it’s so much hard work, and when you’re physically exerting yourself, your temperature is going to rise.
So if you suddenly find yourself feeling sweaty and hot, and those cramps are kicking into high gear—well, let’s just say you might be getting ready to call the midwife soon, because the baby could be coming.
1 Your Water Breaks
Well, this is pretty much the definitive sign that labor has officially begun—according to Baby Centre, if your water breaks, that is the beginning of labor. But here’s the thing that all expecting women should know—it might not be a super dramatic event. For the vast majority of women, it doesn’t feel like a waterfall—it’s a gradual process.
In fact, some women do not experience their water breaking until they get to the hospital after contractions are already in full swing. So just be on the lookout for the signs, because it’s a guarantee that labor is beginning.
Sources: mumsnet.com, thebump.com, webmd.com, mayoclinic.com, babycentre.com, wellnessmama.com, mamanatural.com, whattoexpect.com, momjunction.com, todaysparent.com