10 Signs Of Labor (And What to Expect)

10 Signs Of Labor (And What to Expect)

Oh, labor.

How I dreamt of you when I was several days past my due date.

I tried everything to put myself into labor at that point: I ate spicy foods, I ran on my treadmill on an incline, I even tried reflexology on my feet (who knew pressure points could be so powerful).

But, sadly, my son came on his own time!

The good news is that when you actually do go into labor (or are about to), there’s no mistaking it.

Read on to learn some signs to watch out for, and what to expect with them.

1. You Experience Regular Contractions

Contractions feel like menstrual cramps—but worse.

When you start to feel contractions, you should time them out. This is a major sign of labor.

When your contractions are five minutes apart for an hour straight, it’s time to call the doctor and get into the hospital. 

2. You Lose Your Mucus Plug

I had no idea I even had a mucus plug. But, when I lost it, I knew!

Expect to see a chunk of mucus (like a large pile of snot from your nose—gross, I know) that gathers in the toilet usually after you go to the bathroom.

If you don’t regularly “check” each time you get up from going, you should definitely start toward the end of your third trimester. 

3. Your Discharge Changes

You may notice a brownish or pinkish discharge (this is totally normal), but if it’s bright red, be sure to call the doctor right away.

Your discharge will also be thicker and will be more abundant.

Some women experience so much, they have to wear a panty liner or pad to remain comfortable.

This is all totally normal and is a great sign.

4. You Feel Extremely Tired

Extreme fatigue is one way you know your pretty much hitting the labor stage.

This is mainly because your belly is getting so big and uncomfortable, that you’re probably not getting a great night’s sleep. 

5. You Start to Nest

Your body can sense that big changes are about to happen, so your mind responds by kicking you into nesting mode.

Every little item has a place, and every nook and cranny has to get cleaned (I’m sure your baby really cares that you just cleaned the inside of your washing machine well)!

6. You Experience Loose Stools

When your body starts to loosen up, so do your bowel movements.

If you notice you’re visiting the bathroom much more frequently, and it comes on from out of nowhere, you could be closer to labor sooner than you think.

7. You Get Clumsy

Your body starts to loosen up in an effort to prepare you for delivery, so you may find yourself becoming more clumsy.

You stumble, you drop things—be careful!

Wear supportive sneakers and step safely. 

Some women even participate in yoga the last month to improve their posture and balance.

8. You Get Intense Cramps

Cramping can be one of the top symptoms of labor.

While mild cramping is normal, anything so severe that prohibits you from standing or walking should be reported to your health care provider. 

9. You Experience Back Pain

Back pain occurs as your joints loosen up and your muscles start to stretch and shift.

If you experience this more than have you before, you can assure labor is going to happen shortly.

10. Your Cervix Dilates

During one of your internal exams, your doctor will check to see if your cervix starts to thin out and open up.

If so, you’re on your way to full fledge labor!

This is good news if you’re close to your due date. But, if you start this process way early, you could be put on bedrest to slow things down, and as an extra precaution.

Wrapping Up

Everyone experiences labor differently.

While these 10 symptoms are among the most common, some women don’t really experience it at all, while others experience it full force.

Obviously, the most evident sign that you’re beginning labor is when your water breaks.

But, the other 10 symptoms are a bit more sneaky and sometimes sneak up on you, or get completely overlooked.  

Rest assured that your baby will be delivered one way or another, so just sit back, relax, and stay aware of your body and its movements and actions toward the end. 


Hi there, I'm Kate! I started Maternity Glow to be a place for new and expecting moms to come to for practical pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and baby care tricks.

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