5 Signs That Your Baby Is Coming Soon
In the final weeks of your pregnancy, your baby typically repositions itself and drops its head down into the pelvis. This stage, technically known as engagement, is sometimes called "lightening," as you may feel less pressure on your diaphragm and lungs; many moms-to-be find it easier to breathe at this stage.
Numerous pregnant women experience a pink, brown or bloody vaginal discharge in the hours or days before they go into labor. Sometimes called the "bloody show," this discharge indicates that labor is near. In addition, the mucus plug that blocks the cervix typically works free in the final days before delivery. Occasionally, it comes out all at once, and for some women, it leaks out a little at a time.
If you start to experience increased back pain toward the very end of your pregnancy, you may actually be feeling early contractions. Your baby's position may cause what's known as "back labor," in which pain is felt more in the back than around the uterus. In addition, as your joints loosen up in preparation for labor and delivery, your back takes some of the brunt of the changes.
Your muscles, ligaments and joints start to loosen up in preparation for labor, and your rectal muscles are part of this process. Don't be surprised to experience loose, watery bowel movements during the final days and weeks before labor. The release of prostaglandins that cause your cervix to soften and efface also have an effect on your bowels, so an onset of diarrhea may mean that labor is only hours away.
Braxton Hicks contractions are warmups to labor. They aren't considered real labor contractions, even though they involve a tightening and release of the uterus. Some women refer to them as "false labor." You can tell the difference between real contractions and Braxton Hicks contractions because in Braxton Hicks contractions, pain centers in the lower abdomen rather than in the back. Braxton Hicks contractions are also irregular and they tend to stop if you get up and move around.
After months of waiting, you're probably more than ready for your baby to be born. But how do you know when you're getting close or even in the early stages of labor? Even if you've felt for weeks that you can't possibly get any bigger, you may want to look for these signs that labor and delivery are just around the corner.
Your obstetrician is likely to give you instructions as to when to head to the hospital. If you're in any doubt about what your symptoms mean, give your doctor or midwife a call and ask for advice. As you wait for labor to begin, take time to rest and make yourself as comfortable as possible.