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Signs labor is 24-48 hours away- get ready!!

Signs labor is 24-48 hours away- get ready!!


What are the signs labor is 24-48 hours away? How do you feel right before labor starts? How do you feel 24 hours before labor? What are the signs of labor approaching?

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It’s not always crystal clear, however there are some signs more than others that you can rely on.

In the days and hours leading up to each of my three labor and deliveries, there were some clues that stood out with each one. There were some big differences, too!

My first and second pregnancies started with my water breaking so I KNEW it was time. Before that, I had a bloody show and could tell labor was on the way.

With my second pregnancy, the bloody show happened about 8 hours before my water broke.

Hopefully these obvious signs of labor will help you figure out if it’s time to get ready!

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Signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away:

  1. Loss of mucus plug
  2. Bloody show
  3. Weight loss
  4. Nesting
  5. Extreme fatigue
  6. Diarrhea
  7. Back pain
  8. Contractions
  9. Ripened cervix
  10. Water breaking

Let’s dive in to these symptoms before labor begins:

Loss Of Mucus Plug

A mucus plug is something your body creates from the moment of conception to protect your baby from harmful germs and bacteria. It is literally a plug on the end of your cervix that’s made of mucus, charming, I know.

You might notice losing this but you might not. Some women have seen it drop into the toilet, some have wiped it away after peeing and some have felt it in their underwear.

My first baby, I never noticed a mucus plug. With my second baby, I distinctly remember losing my mucus plug the evening before my water broke at 2am. With my third, I actually lost my mucus plug at 35 weeks and was CONVINCED I was going to have a very early baby.

After doing a lot of research, I discovered that you can, in fact, lose your mucus plug more than once. Your body will just regenerate it if it comes out too early!

So, how long after losing your mucus plug does labor start?

If you lose your mucus plug that means your cervix is starting to dilate- yay! However that can mean that labor is hours away or as long as 1-2 weeks.

Bloody Show

Sometimes people use the terms “mucus plug” and “bloody show” interchangeably but they’re slightly different.

The mucus plug is transparent and contains little to no blood while the bloody show is mucus tinged with red or brown blood.

If you have a bloody show, it means you’ve lost your mucus plug and your cervix is preparing for labor!

RELATED: How To Induce Labor (quickly and naturally!)

Weight Loss

Don’t get too excited, it’s not a lot of weight loss. It can be anywhere from 1-3 pounds of water weight that you shed in the days before you go into labor.

Increased Vaginal Discharge

Once you get closer to labor, you might notice your vaginal discharge becoming thicker or changing color.

Nesting or Being Extremely Fatigued

Is sudden exhaustion a sign that labor is close?

Extreme fatigue before labor is a pretty good sign of what’s coming. On the flip side- you may get a burst of energy and start nesting!

Those last few days before you go into active labor can be confusing. Either your body will be trying to conserve energy for childbirth or you’ll be getting in some last minute nesting!

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had a sudden burst of energy at 37 weeks. I packed my hospital bag, cleaned the house and then my water broke at 6am the next morning. Pay attention to energy levels!

Diarrhea- Is Pooping a Sign of Labor Coming Soon?

It certainly can be!

This happens because your muscles are getting an extra dose of relaxin leading up to birth. This means that ALL your muscles get it, including your rectum muscles.

But, this is a good thing because it helps your body void all unnecessary contents before you give birth!

Ie; no pooping during delivery!

It can still happen though- just to warn you. It’s hard not to worry about it, but try not to. All the nurses that will help you have seen it before, they’re absolutely professional and will whisk it away before anyone can see it!

RELATED: Diarrhea: how soon before labor?

Back Pain

If you start having lower back pain and a crampy feeling, that can be a sign that labor has started or is approaching. This is because your muscles and joints are shifting for birth.

signs that labor is 24-48 hours away/signs of labor/signs of labor approaching


How do you tell the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and real contractions?

Braxton Hicks:

  • Irregular and infrequent, lasting only 15-30 seconds.
  • Subside if you change position.

Real contractions:

  • Consistently get stronger and more frequent.
  • They don’t go away if you stand up or change position.
  • Last about 30-70 seconds each.

True labor vs. false labor

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Ripened Cervix

By this point you’ll be seeing your doctor a lot. They’ll be checking each time to see if you’re dilated at all. If you’re dilated past 3cm that can mean you may be going into labor soon.

To give you some hope though, if you aren’t dilated yet, here’s what happened with my third baby:

I saw my doctor around 9am on my baby’s actual due date and she checked me. She laughed and said I wasn’t even 1cm so I shouldn’t hold my breath over the baby coming any time soon. So I left thinking it was going to be a week or two.

I went into labor at 2:30 that day and had my baby at 6:16. You never know.

Free Printable- When to Head to the Hospital!

RELATED: How To Have A Faster Labor

Water Breaking

It shocked me to learn that only 15% of women have their water break before labor begins. If it does happen, it means you’re going into labor, yay!

My water broke with 2 out of 3 babies before labor started. My daughter, hours before and my son about 20 minutes. With my 3rd, my water broke during active labor.

RELATED: Epidurals- Should You Get One?

Is Nausea A Sign Of Labor?

Nausea and vomiting is experienced by a lot of women at some point during labor.

Sometimes, nausea can happen before labor but generally it happens during the active first stage of labor. I have definitely felt nauseous due to the pain from contractions.

If you do end up vomiting, keep drinking fluids to stay hydrated.

What Is False Labor?

It may be false labor if the contractions:

  • come less than 4 times an hour
  • aren’t regular
  • don’t get painful or stronger
  • come and go depending on your position

Early Labor Signs

What are the first signs of early labor? Sometimes there are early and more subtle signs before labor begins:

  • Back pain/cramps
  • More Braxton Hicks
  • Being overly emotional
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Loose feeling joints
  • Weight loss
  • Sudden exhaustion
  • Nesting instinct kicks in
  • Pet starts acting “weird”

RELATED: 17 Non-Obvious Signs of Labor

How Do You Feel 24 Hours Before Labor?

The answer to how you feel right before labor varies by woman and by pregnancy.

And, it may change for each pregnancy you have!

Symptoms in the hours/days before labor include:

  1. Loss of mucus plug
  2. Bloody show
  3. Weight loss
  4. Nesting/Extreme fatigue
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Back pain
  7. Contractions
  8. Ripened cervix
  9. Water breaking

I know that you want a definite answer as to what happens right before you go into labor- the truth is, there is no definite answer. You may have 1, 2 or all of the above symptoms.

Or, you might have NONE. Seriously, I had NO CLUE that my third baby was going to arrive on the day that she did. Not one single inkling, symptom or anything.

It was fine one minute, active contractions the next.

With my son, I lost my mucus plug in the evening, about 8 hours before my water breaking.

RELATED: Free Printable Birth Plan (+ why you want one)

What Time of Day Does Labor Usually Start?

Ever wondered if there’s been a study on when labor usually starts? Well, lucky for you-

there has!

This study was published in 2018 and some interesting answers… but you might not like them.

If you go into spontaneous labor and have then continue on to have a spontaneous birth (no medical interventions), you are most likely to give birth between midnight and 6am and probably on a weekday, not a weekend.

If you have an induced labor, the birth is more likely to occur around midnight from Tuesday to Saturday.

Elective C-Sections were found to mostly happen on weekday mornings.

When To Go To The Hospital For Labor

As a general rule, you should head to the hospital when your contractions are about 4 minutes apart, last 45-60 seconds and stay that way for an hour. However, if this isn’t your first baby, things may move more quickly.

If you’re at all unsure, contact your healthcare provider.

With my first baby, I went in WAY too early because my water broke but I didn’t go into active labor. I ended up being induced because I was Group B strep positive.

With my second baby, my water broke and my labor progressed extremely quickly- I think I stayed home for an hour from the first contraction till I left for the hospital.

With my third baby, my water didn’t break. I was in active labor from the very first contraction – there was no early labor phase for me.

I left for the hospital about 15-20 minutes after my first contraction and I’m SO happy I did because my baby was born less than 4 hours later.

I tell you this to show that not only is every woman different, so is every labor! What happened with your first or second baby may not happen with subsequent babies.

Am I In Labor? Here’s How To Tell:

Signs of labor include:

  • Strong and regular contractions
  • Your water breaking
  • Bloody mucus discharge (bloody show)
  • Loss of mucus plug
  • Diarrhea
  • Back pain
  • Ripened cervix

Always, ALWAYS call your healthcare provider no matter what the time of day if you’re unsure- they WANT you to call!


When I was googling signs of labor, I was always looking for something that would definitively tell me it was happening. I was also desperately wishing for it to start, as I’m sure you are.

It’s SO HARD to wait the last few weeks! And while I wished for labor to start at the end of every pregnancy I’ve ever had-

Looking back, I wish I would have slowed down and tried to enjoy the last little while before my new one was Earth side.

If it’s your first pregnancy, slow down and really soak up the moments that you’re truly yourself and cherish the time you have left to do whatever you want.

It’s a subsequent pregnancy, enjoy your last moments with your other children before a new baby takes up a lot of your time. I know it’s hard, but try.

I’m wishing you so much luck and love on your journey. Wishing you a positive labor and delivery momma ❤

Looking for more helpful tips on labor and delivery?

10 Ways to Have an EASY Labor

Realistic Hospital Bag Checklist

Best Tips For A Natural Birth

How To Induce Labor

Super Weird Labor Signs {you haven’t heard before}

Best C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist

Your Top 10 Burning Questions About Labor and Delivery- Answered!

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