What does the start of labour feel like?
You’re really freaking close to the end of your pregnancy and dying to meet your little one- how do you know for sure when labor has started?
- Contractions or tightening
- Waters breaking
- Bloody show
- Urge to pee
Contractions or tightening
Contractions may not start off very strong. You may feel period like cramps and pain before you realized you’re having real contractions.
Your water breaks
If your water breaks, then you are going into labor for sure! EEEK! It may not happen for a while after it does break though- monitor yourself and try to stay home as long as it makes sense.
When my water broke with my first baby, I panicked and thought I should be at the hospital even without contractions. It wasn’t terrible but it was long and I wish I would have waited at home where I could be more comfortable and relax.
You notice a “show”
The bloody show occurs because your mucus plug has become dislodged or has already fallen out. This is a sure fire sign that labor is imminent!
For some women, this happens a week before labor and for others it happens right before. It happened the evening before I went into labor with my first 2 babies and with my 3rd I didn’t even notice at the end of my pregnancy.
Crampiness and pain in your lower back is because your muscles and joints are loosening and preparing for labor.
The urge to pee is stronger
When you reach the end of your pregnancy, baby will start getting lower in the birth canal. The pressure from baby’s head will be sending you to the bathroom even more often again.
All these signs happen in early labor or latent phase and can take some time to go through.
Here are some ways to speed up the latent phase of labour:
- Move around
- Take a warm bath or get into a warm birthing tub
- Do squats
- Stimulate your nipples
- Use accupressure
- Sit on a birth ball
- Visit the bathroom
- Take relaxing seriously- stress inhibits oxytocin production
- Have some quiet alone time
How do Labour pains start?
Every labor and pregnancy is different for every woman. You’ll never have 2 the same! The obvious signs of labor starting inlude:
- Water breaking
- A “show”
- Lower back pain
- The urge to visit the bathroom
RELATED: Is diarrhea a sign of labor?
I’ve had 3 babies and they all started differently:
Baby 1: Water broke but only a tiny bit. Went to the hospital and spent 2 hours waiting for them to get a sample that my water had, indeed, broken. Then I was induced.
Baby 2: Water broke in an insane gush- it woke me up from a dead sleep. Labor progressed extremely quickly after that with very intense contractions. I had lost my mucus plug about 6 hours before my water broke.
Baby 3: I was mopping the floor on the day of baby’s due date when suddenly I realized I was doubled over the mop in pain… The contractions snuck up on me! My water broke after I had gotten to the hospital and was already experiencing very intense contractions.
What are some signs that labor is nearing?
All the traditional signs of labor include:
- Water breaking
- Back pain
- Loss of mucus plug/bloody show
- Baby drops
- Cervix dilates
- Sudden weight loss
There are some sneaky signs of labor that are NOT obvious:
- Feeling super emotional?
- Is your pet acting weird?
- Do you feel off?
- Weird dreams?
How do you feel 24 hours before labor?
Everyone feels differently. Some women experience a crazy energy boost, others feel very fatigued. Some women get very emotional and others don’t even have a clue labor is on the way!
Here’s how to tell when labor is 24 to 48 hours away.
Does baby move a lot before labor?
Of course, every labor is different. But generally a better sign of labor approaching is baby quieting down and moving less. That being said, babies should move about 10 times in a 2 hour period.
It is also common to feel less motion as the baby begins to takes a vertex (head down) position in the womb.source
This isn’t to scare you but it’s very good to know what you should be watching out for. Never, ever be worried or embarrassed about calling your health care provider. If you’re concerned, call or go see them:
“Reduced fetal movement, even in late pregnancy, is cause for concern. Try and prompt your baby with a cold drink or by rubbing your stomach. If there is no change, contact your midwife.
Increased fetal movement is a sign that your baby is in distress, and if you experience this, you should also seek professional help immediately.” – source
Do contractions feel like you have to poop?
Yep! The same muscles used for pushing baby out are the same that are used for pooping. This sensation might happen more towards the end of labor when you are getting ready to push baby out.
Pooping before labor is a really good thing- it means your body is “cleaning house.”
If you’re worried about pooping during labor, try not to. The nurses are extremely professional and good at what they do. If you poop during labor, you might not even know because it will be whisked away so fast.
I’m pretty sure I pooped during all 3 labors 🤷♀️ One I know about, the other 2 I’m not sure lol.
How can I make myself go into labor right now?
I think if I had something that worked 100% I’d be rich! Unfortunately, there is just no one thing that will cause you to go into labor right now.
A few things you can try:
- Nipple stimulation
- Clary sage essential oil
- Red raspberry leaf tea
- Eating pineapple
- Bouncing on a birth ball
RELATED: 11 Ways to Induce Labor Safely
Early signs of labor that can go unnoticed
Everyone experiences labor symptoms differently- there may be some symptoms before labor begins you may not notice!
- Loss of mucus plug– this may fall out or come out gradually in pieces and you may not even notice.
- Contractions– sometimes real contractions can feel like Braxton Hicks and you might not even realize they’re real at first!
- If you aren’t tracking your weight closely, you may not notice a sudden weight loss at the end of your pregnancy which signifies labor beginning.
- You might not notice your baby dropping at the end of pregnancy.
Labor pains symptoms: When to go to hospital
Stop googling “When to head to the hospital” with your FREE labor checklist!
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Baby boy labour pain symptoms
It’s tempting to think there are different labor pain signs for different genders but they will most likely be the same.
Feel like I have to pee during contractions?
If you’re feeling the urge to pee during contractions it’s because your baby has dropped and is making its way down the birth canal. This puts even more pressure on your bladder causing you to feel like you need to pee.
Waters weren’t broken but having contractions
Contrary to popular belief, there is only a small percentage of women who experience their water breaking before contractions begin (only 15%.)
So if your water hasn’t broken but you’re having strong contractions- rest easy! It’s totally normal.
How I knew I was in labor
I knew I was in labor with my second baby the second my water broke. It was super unexpected and shocking! Very intense contractions started less than an hour later- maybe even 40 minutes after.
With my third baby, contractions snuck up on me. I had seen my doctor that morning to get a membrane sweep. Her exact words were, “don’t hold your breath, this baby isn’t coming anytime soon!”
I laughed and went on my way. Contractions started less than 4 hours later and they were fast and furious! My water broke in the hospital with that baby.
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Headache before labor forum
A headache before labor can be a sign that something is happening! Here are some forums you can read through from other women who have experienced this:
Pooping sound during labor- Did I seriously just poop??
Friends. You are probably going to poop during labor. It’s okay. A lot of women have come before you and they pooped too.
Know what women back in the day didn’t get? Super cleanly and professional nurses to whisk it away before you can blink! Consider yourself lucky 😉
And honestly, try not to worry.
peeing every 10 minutes sign of labor
Mild contractions can feel kind of like Braxton Hicks but they’ll start in your back and your whole belly will become very hard. They’ll also steadily increase in intensity and frequency.
Labor starts anywhere from 37-42 weeks pregnant. If it starts earlier, you may be experience pre-term labor and should call your doctor.
1 finger equals 1 cm dilated. 2 fingers equals 2 cm dilated. You can use a ruler or tape measure to see how your healthcare provider measures by stretching your middle and index finger.
Delivery will happen at at full dilation or 10 cm dilated.
You won’t necessarily have more or less Braxton Hicks before labor. Every pregnancy is different. Braxton Hicks are sporadic, not painful and go away with a change of position.
It might not fully induce labor but it certainly can help get things moving! Walking around and allowing gravity to do its thing can encourage baby to start making its way down and out.
The top 3 signs of labor are water breaking, contractions and a crampy feeling along with a back ache.
The 3 STAGES of labor are:
1. Early and active labor
2. Birth of your baby
3. Delivery of the placenta
About the Author
Jenni is a parenting expert and founder of The Mommyhood Club. Her parenting advice has been featured in Outwit Trade, Tid Bits of Experience and Thrive Global. Read More.