Is sudden exhaustion a sign of labor?
The third trimester can be SO exhausting for women. In the last weeks and days leading up to labor, you’ll probably be googling a lot of questions like:
“I’m 39 weeks and feeling very tired and sleepy.”
“When does labor start?”
“What are the early signs of labor?”
And so on. Every. Single. Twinge. will become a source of eek! could it be labor??
I was like this with all three of my pregnancies. And they were all different, LOL! The one thing you can count on with pregnancy and labor is that no two will be the same.
My fourth baby was just born and the symptoms are fresh in my mind. I DEFINITELY had sudden exhaustion before baby this time around. It came a day after a burst of energy so I really noticed the exhaustion. I could barely get out of bed! My baby was born 2 days later.
Have you taken a prenatal course yet? This course is FREE. It’s taught by a labor nurse who’s been one since 1997!
So- is sudden exhaustion a sign of labor? What is the difference between pre-labor fatigue and third trimester fatigue?
The end of pregnancy can be a wild ride. If you’re not bursting with energy and rearranging furniture or deep cleaning your fridge, you might be hit with sudden exhaustion.
That’s a good sign that your body is conserving energy for the hard work of childbirth coming up!
You might be wondering how to tell pre-labor tiredness apart from regular third trimester tiredness. The answer is that you will know when it is pre-labor because your whole body will slow down in preparation for labor. This isn’t just feeling like you need a nap, it’s a whole body exhaustion and you will know.
Can labor just start all of a sudden?
Yes, it absolutely can. It happened to me!
I’ve mentioned this in other posts but it bears mentioning again-
With my third baby, I saw my doctor in the morning for a membrane sweep. She told me “don’t hold your breath, this baby isn’t coming anytime soon.”
So, I didn’t hold my breath and went about my day. As I was mopping the floor, I suddenly realized I was doubled over in pain… a major contraction! I rushed to the hospital at 2pm and had my baby before 6pm that same day.
This may not be typical with first time pregnancies but always be ready with your hospital bag packed– just in case.
There is something called precipitous labor (giving birth less than 3 hours after contractions have started), which I don’t think I had. But you should be aware of the signs as it can happen unexpectedly!
Signs of precipitous labor are:
- Sudden pattern of very strong contractions that are close and don’t let you recover.
- Pain that feels like one long contraction.
- A sudden feeling of having to push or have a bowel movement. This can also feel like strong pressure in your pelvic area.
Can feeling unwell be a sign of labor?
Yes, feeling unwell can be a sign that baby is coming. You might have diarrhea (your body’s way of cleaning house), experience flu-like symptoms or have an achy, crampy feeling in your lower back.
RELATED: Weird Signs that Labor is Starting
What are the signs of going in to labor?
These are the most common signs of labor:
- Loss of mucus plug
- Bloody show
- Weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Back pain
- Ripened cervix
- Water breaking
Loss of mucus plug
The mucus plug is something that’s formed right when you conceive. It’s a blob of mucus that covers the end of your cervix to keep nasty germs and bacteria from getting to your baby- it’s really quite neat!
When you lose your mucus plug, you may not even notice. It could drop into the toilet or be wiped away without you knowing.
I noticed losing my mucus plug in 2 out of 3 pregnancies. With my son, it came out around 6pm and I went into labor at 2am that morning.
With my daughter, I actually lost it at 35 weeks and panicked about going into labor early. I only learned later that your mucus plug will regenerate if lost too early- so don’t panic if that happens to you.
So, if you notice a snotty type blob in the toilet or your underwear and it’s the end of your pregnancy- rejoice! Baby is coming.
The bloody show happens when you lose your mucus plug. This is because your cervix is very sensitive- it’s covered in a lot of tiny blood vessels.
When the mucus plug gets dislodged, some blood vessels rupture and you might notice a small amount of blood.
The amount is very small- a streak of blood tinged mucus is normal.
So, if you missed the mucus plug coming out but there’s a small tinge of blood when you wipe at the end of pregnancy, that’s a really good sign of labor.
You stop gaining weight
You may stop gaining weight or even lose a little bit. The weight loss at the very end of pregnancy is very slight- about 1-3 pounds.
You might not notice unless you’re weighing yourself regularly.
Deep cleaning your freezer? Organizing the pantry? Nesting is in instinct we share with animals- there is something that’s telling you baby will be here soon and to get those last minute things ready.
Nesting can happen in the last weeks and days leading up to giving birth. Try not to do anything too crazy (like moving an armoire and king size mattress… *cough*) but take advantage of the energy boost and get those last minute to-do’s finished up.
If you’re like me you will be getting last minute items and trying to be prepared for anything- grab a bundle of these adorable and super absorbant HelloBello diapers for 40% off! Use the code DIAPERS at checkout 🙂
RELATED: Free 3rd Trimester Checklist
On the flip side of a burst of energy, you feel extreme fatigue before going into labor. Your body is incredibly intuitive- listen to it!
If you’re fatigued, it means it’s time to rest and conserve energy before the big day.
Rest as much as you can and spoil yourself with movies and delicious food before baby makes their debut.
Maybe it’s gross but I always loved having diarrhea at the end of pregnancy, LOL! This is because it “cleans house” and clears everything out before you need to push baby out.
Generally, if it does happen to you, it will be 24-48 hours before labor.
You know that crampy, achy feeling you get in your lower back around the time of your period? That feeling can be a good sign of labor approaching at the end of your pregnancy.
This is the most obvious sign of labor but sometimes it’s hard to determine a real contraction from Braxton Hicks (especially with first pregnancies.)
I actually had a false alarm with my SECOND baby because I had been induced with my first and didn’t really know how real contractions would start/feel like.
Here’s a guide for you:
When your cervix starts opening, that’s when exciting things start to happen! Your mucus plug will dislodge, you might notice a bloody show and you know that baby is on the way.
Your doctor will be checking you more regularly at the end of your pregnancy and they will check and tell you how dilated you are. Being dilated past 3cm is a good indication or labor approaching.
Did you know that only 15% of women have their water break before labor? I just assumed it happened to almost everyone because it happened to me with 2 out of 3 pregnancies.
It might be a trickle or it might be a huge gush- I’ve have both experiences! If you have liquid trickling down and you’re almost positive you didn’t pee… your water might have broken! It will be odorless and clear in color.
How did you feel 24 hours before labor?
This varies from woman to woman AND pregnancy to pregnancy. I’ve had all the “regular signs” and knew it was coming and I’ve been completely surprised when labor did show up.
With my first- no idea it was coming. My water broke early in the morning and I was surprised!
With my second- I had an urge to eat lots of fun junk food, lost my mucus plug at 6pm and my water broke at 2am the next morning.
With my third- didn’t notice losing my mucus plug, doctor told me in the morning not to wait because baby wasn’t coming soon but I had strong contractions start at 2pm that day and had my baby at 6pm that same day.
Is baby more or less active before labor?
You might notice that your baby is less active before labor begins. No one knows why this is- it may be because your baby is saving energy for birth as well.
Your baby should still move several times an hour– always call your doctor if your baby isn’t moving and you’re worried.
When should you go to the doctor with contractions?
If your contractions are lasting 60 second and are 3-5 minutes apart, it’s time to head to the hospital!
How long do you have loose stools before labor?
Diarrhea or loose stools usually happen 1-2 days before labor begins.
RELATED: Diarrhea- surefire labor sign?
Sleeping a lot before labor- is it a sign of baby coming?
Did you feel exhausted before going into labor? I personally never felt the extreme exhaustion (other than normal end of pregnancy tiredness), but I did always notice a burst of energy and nesting instincts kicking in before going into labor.
Being tired and fatigued before labor is normal- if you feel like sleeping a lot and are able to, go for it! That’s a great chance to conserve energy before childbirth.
Sudden exhaustion or extreme fatigue at pregnant 37 weeks
Sudden exhaustion or extreme fatigue can indicate that labor may start soon. If this is happening to you at 37 weeks, keep an eye on your other symptoms and pack your hospital bag just in case!
Burst of energy then exhaustion before labor
It’s confusing but both energy bursts and exhaustion are totally normally in the days leading up to labor. If you had a burst of energy and then got really tired, just go with it.
Rest and pamper yourself- baby will be there soon!
39 weeks pregnant and feeling very tired and sleepy
39 weeks pregnant means your baby is full term- yay! Feeling tired and sleepy at this point is totally normal- you’re carrying around a full term baby, have a bunch of hormones wreaking havoc on your system and may or may not be getting enough sleep at night.
It’s hard not to google every single sign and twinge but rest assured, baby IS coming and you’re closer than ever now!
I had a burst of energy- how long before labor?
With my 1st baby, I had a crazy burst of energy at 38 weeks and started moving furniture around and then packed my hospital bag. My water broke early the next morning!
That being said, it’s different for every woman and every pregnancy. I didn’t get a burst of energy before labor with my second baby.
With my third I had a huge urge to vacuum and mop all the floors literally right before I went into labor. I managed to vacuum and get half the mopping done before the contractions took me down, lol!
Final thoughts on sudden exhaustion before labor
If you’re at the end of your pregnancy and you have experienced sudden exhaustion, chances are that labor is on its way!
It’s easier said than done but as a mom of 3, my advice to you is to try to enjoy the last days of your pregnancy. Which can be SO hard! And I wish I could have taken my own advice each pregnancy, haha.
Your baby is coming. No matter what, they will be here. And whether you birth them naturally, with an epidural or have a c-section- it’s going to be okay. You have got this.
Sending momma love to you and positive birth vibes <3
More Labor and Birth Articles:
- How to speed up labor and delivery
- 13 tips for an easy natural birth
- Epidurals- should you get one?
- FREE printable birth plan- get yours here!