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Many pregnant moms have wondered how labor will feel, how long it will last, and how to know whether it's the real deal or a false alarm. But knowing what s of labor to look out for will help provide clues that it's almost time to meet your baby. Labor is the process of childbirth, starting with contractions of the uterus and cervical dilationand ending with the delivery of the baby. As you get closer to your due date, you may begin to notice some subtle physical s that labor is coming soon. Then you may see s of early labor anywhere from hours to days before you transition into active labor and baby arrives.

Are the contractions evenly spaced? True labor contractions are spaced at regular intervals and become more frequent as time goes on. How long do the contractions last? True labor contractions last for 30 to 70 seconds each. Are the contractions strong? You may notice the loss of your mucus plug — the cork sealing off your uterus from the outside world. It can come out in one large piece it looks similar to the mucus in your nose or lots of little ones, though you may not get a glimpse of it at all and some women don't lose it before delivery.

Can Certain Foods Induce Labor? How to Create a Birth Plan. This thickened, pinkish discharge is called bloody show and is a good indication that labor is imminent. You could also have pain in your lower back that radiates down into the legs. For most women, membranes rupture and amniotic fluid leaks after other labor symptoms have already begun.

Your water breaking is actually one of the final s of labor most women experience — and it happens naturally in only around 15 percent of births or fewer. Look out for these very early s of labor also known as pre-labor symptomswhich can happen anywhere from a full month or more to a mere hour or so before active labor starts. Your baby is getting into position to make his exit, ideally with the head down and low and not in the breech position. The good news is that you have a bit more breathing room, since your little one is moving away from your lungs. Your cervix, too, is preparing for birth: It starts to dilate open and efface thin out in the days or weeks before you deliver.

At your weekly check-ups in the home stretch of your pregnancy, your provider may measure and track dilation and effacement via an internal exam. You may Tell me you know some cramping and pain in your lower back and groin as labor nears, especially if this isn't your first pregnancy. Your muscles and ts are stretching and shifting in preparation for birth. Before you go into labor, you may notice that the ts all over Tell me you know body feel a bit less tight and more relaxed. Just as the muscles in your uterus are relaxing in preparation for birth, so too are other muscles in your body — including those in the rectum.

Though annoying, it's completely normal.

Pregnancy weight gain often levels off at the very end. Some moms-to-be even lose a couple of pounds. Wait a minute, is this the third trimester or the first? So pile up those pillows and take naps when you can, if at all possible. Try not to stress about it. If you think you're going into labor, your doctor has Tell me you know advised you on what to do when your due date is near and you think you're experiencing regular contractions e.

If you think you might be in labor but aren't sure, get on the phone. The vast majority of pregnancies — about 90 percent — make it to week 37 of pregnancy. Preterm labor is when labor occurs before week Every labor, like every pregnancy, is different. Will you know labor when you feel it? Will those contractions tell you what you need to know?

Chances are, yes. Still get it checked out. Not in labor just yet There are a few natural tricks that may help induce labor that you can try at home yourself, including walking, sex, spicy food and acupuncture. That said, there's not a lot of research to back any of these methods up, and you should always talk to your doctor first before trying anything intended to expedite baby's birthday. What to Expect has strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible primary sources. Health information on this site is regularly monitored based on peer-reviewed medical journals and highly respected health organizations and institutions.

Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy. The educational health content on What To Expect is reviewed by our medical review board and team of experts to be up-to-date and in line with the latest evidence-based medical information and accepted health guidelines, including the medically reviewed What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff. This educational content is not medical or diagnostic advice. Use of this site is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.

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Medically Reviewed by James Greenberg, M. Getty Images. Here are some labor symptoms to watch out for. Back to Top. In This Article. What is labor? How to Tell if You're in Labor. Continue Reading Below.

Read This Next. View Sources. March of Dimes, Stages of LaborMarch Pregnancy Groups. Third Trimester. Vaginal Birth. Jump to Your Week of Pregnancy. Pregnancy Week. Please whitelist our site to get all the best deals and offers from our partners. Having a C-Section Cesarean Section. Headaches During Pregnancy. Nesting During Pregnancy. Follow us on. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.

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