As your due date approaches, you’re probably looking for some signs that your baby is ready to come out and meet the world. This is doubly true if it’s your first baby and you’re not quite sure what to expect. There are a number of signs that your body is going into labor, but you need to prepare to have a few false alarms before the day actually arrives.
Contractions are a tightening of the uterus and are a sure sign that you’re in labor. However, it’s common to get mild contractions towards the end of your pregnancy. The difference between these “Braxton Hicks” contractions and the real deal is in frequency and intensity. If your contractions are happening at regular intervals, you should probably contact your doctor or midwife.
Effacement and Dilation
Your cervix will start to go through changes as your body prepares for birth. It will start to get soft and thin, a process that will allow your baby to easily pass through. This is effacement. Dilation is the opening of your cervix. You won’t notice these things happening. Rather, your doctor will check for them at the appointments close to your due date. She’ll let you know where you stand.
You may notice the loss of your mucus plug–mucus that blocks bacteria from entering the cervix–as a bit of thick, dark brown discharge, commonly called a “bloody show.” This can be a sign that your body is going into labor soon; however, it’s also possible for your body to create a second mucus plug after losing this one.
If you’ve been tired throughout your whole pregnancy, get ready for a change. Soon before you go into labor, you may experience “nesting syndrome”–an increase in energy that finds you cleaning things that you never realized were dirty. This helps you to prepare for baby’s arrival.
If your membranes rupture, you’ll start leaking amniotic fluid. This may come in one big gush, or it could be a slow leak. Keep in mind that this only happens to about 1 in 10 women. Wet panties may also be a sign that you’re leaking urine because your baby is pushing on your bladder.
As your baby prepares for birth, he’ll “drop” further into positioning. You may feel as though you’re carrying him lower than you were before and even feel like his head is already in your pelvis area. Additionally, this will give your lungs more space, so you’ll be able to breathe better.
- pregnant belly button image by davidcrehner from Fotolia.com