Many obstetricians begin making cervical checks to look for dilation during the final months of pregnancy. There are several telltale signs that can give you a clue that your body may be preparing for labor. Cervical dilation may begin days or weeks before labor begins, but it can also be a key indicator that delivery is getting closer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Increased Braxton Hicks Contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions are common throughout pregnancy, but they often increase as labor gets closer. Braxton Hicks prepares your muscles for childbirth. While they don’t indicate that labor is starting, they can be painful. Toward the end of pregnancy, Braxton Hicks begins the process of dilating the cervix, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. While Braxton Hicks may slow down with rest and drinking extra fluids, true contractions will stay regular and grow closer together.
Feeling Like the Baby has Dropped
In the last few weeks of pregnancy, the baby will drop lower into the pelvis. Some women can see a noticeable difference in the way that they are carrying their baby after it drops, but nearly all women can certainly feel the difference. Once the baby drops, it can make a woman feel much more uncomfortable. While the baby dropping is not a sign that your cervix is dilating, the pressure of the baby’s head on the cervix will cause your cervix to dilate much faster.
Loss of the Mucous Plug
The mucous plug is a layer of thick mucous that protects the opening of the cervix during pregnancy. Toward the end of the pregnancy, this mucous plug may come out as the cervix begins to dilate. Not every woman notices when she loses her mucous plug. While it is a sign that the cervix is beginning to dilate, it is not a sign that labor will begin immediately, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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