After months of waiting, you may find yourself counting the days until you finally get to meet your new baby. As your due date gets closer, knowing the signs of labor can help you be prepared for what's to come and can ease any anxiety you may be feeling.
You may notice that your baby has "dropped" or moved lower into your pelvis. This is called "lightening." It means that your baby is getting ready to move into position for birth.
You may also begin to feel contractions (labor pains). These contractions happen as your uterus begins to squeeze to help move the baby down the birth canal. Contractions usually start with pain in your belly and lower back. This pain doesn't go away when you move or change positions.
It can be hard to tell the difference between Braxton Hicks (false labor) and true labor contractions. You'll know you're in labor if:
- You have contractions that come stronger, faster, and between 5 and 10 minutes apart.
- Your water breaks. It can be a large gush or a continuous trickle.
- You have a bloody (brownish or reddish) mucus discharge. This is also called bloody show.
If you think you may be going into labor, don't hesitate to call your health care provider, no matter what time of day or night. If your provider tells you that you're in labor, she will want you to get ready and head for the hospital. Watch our video to learn more about the signs of labor.