Determining real labor from false labor
Contractions in true labor:
- Increase in frequency and intensity over time
- Persist despite movement and/or change of position
- Generally begin in the back and move to the front
Contractions in false labor:
- Occur at irregular intervals and may wax and wane in intensity
- Decrease with walking or movement; they do not become stronger or more frequent
- May ease with change of position
- No increase in frequency or intensity of contractions
- Discomfort located in the front only
Keeping tab of signs that labor is near
(Source: 8 Signs That Labor is Near)
- Also known as "lightening" (baby's head settling into the pelvis) or "engagement" (baby's head engages the pelvic opening).
- Breasts probably no longer touch the top of your abdomen.
- Able to sense baby's head resting just beneath the middle of your pelvic bone.
- My experience: I feel soreness in my pelvic area during late 36 weeks. This soreness becomes more and more intense in 38 weeks.
- My experience: I have to pee every two hours between 12am until the time I wake up in the morning.
- As baby gets heavier and drops lower, count on some aches or pains in your lower back and pelvis as your uterine and pelvic ligaments are stretched even more.
- My experience: I don't have much backache but the discomfort in my pelvic area can be quite unbearable at times.
Stronger Braxton-Hicks contractions
- Known as warm-up (pre-labor) contractions that feel like menstrual cramps.
- Start the work of thinning out the cervix from a thick-walled cone to a thin-walled cup.
- Get stronger prior to labor for a week or two before labor starts.
- My experience: Yes, these warm-up contractions do get quite strong as time passes.
- Loose, frequent bowel movements is nature's enema to empty your intestines to make more room for baby's passage
- My experience: Not yet.
Increased vaginal discharge
- You may notice more egg white or pink-tinged vaginal discharge. This differs from the "bloody show".
- My experience: Yup.
- This happens when the mucus plug that previously sealed the cervix is released.
- The consistency of this mucus varies from stringy to thick and gooey. Some women notice the one-time passing of an obvious mucus plug; others simply notice increased blood-tinged vaginal discharge.
- Some of the tiny blood vessels in your cervix break as your cervix thins, so you may see anything from a pink to a brownish-red-tinged teaspoonful of bloody mucous.
- Once you notice a bloody show, you are likely to begin labor within three days, but some mothers hang on for another week or two.
- My experience: Okay.
Bag of waters breaking
- Only 1 in 10 mothers experience their bag of waters breaking prior to labor.
- For most mothers this doesn't happen until they are well into labor.
- If your water breaks before labor has started, plan on your labor starting intensely within the next few minutes or hours, or at least within the next day.
- My experience: Okay, let's see if I get this.