The final few weeks of pregnancy can bring up a multitude of emotions and moods for the expectant mum. One minute you may feel nervous or excited about the impending birth, and the next you’re feeling so uncomfortable you just want things to hurry along so you can walk to the toilet without aches and pains or feeling out of breath. For first times mums, a common cause of anxiety can be knowing whether what they are experiencing is a sign that labour is approaching, or not.
To help put your mind at rest and clue you in on a few of the less common signs, that you may expect to meet your baby soon, we’ve put together this handy list of weird things that may happen before labour. Bear in mind, just as every woman’s body is different, so will her labour and birth experience be. Rather than being a checklist of symptoms to check for, please regard the following as a list of potential signs you may experience.
If you are concerned or unsure if labour has begun, please contact your medical practitioner for advice.
Whilst pregnancy acne is not uncommon in the first and second trimester due to an increase of the hormone androgen, anecdotally, many women who experienced clear skin during their pregnancy report an acne breakout a few days before they went into labour. This may be the one and only time in your life that you go to bed hoping to find a pimple in the morning!
Change in Appetite
It’s common for women to experience a decrease in appetite in the lead up to the onset of labour. For other women, the hours or days before labour may be marked by an increase in appetite. As we mentioned before, no two labours are the same!
Regular Braxton Hicks
Braxton Hicks, so called after John Braxton Hicks an English doctor who first described them in 1872, are contractions of the uterus that feel like tightening of muscles across the belly. Braxton Hicks are usually felt after 16 weeks and are ‘practice contractions’ that help to tone the uterus and prepare it for birth. Whilst some women may feel discomfort, they are generally not considered painful. However, as the frequency of Braxton Hicks can increase infrequency closer to labour as your body readies itself, it’s not uncommon for first time mums to confuse them with contractions. If you are not sure, there is no shame in seeking a medical professional’s advice.
Dizziness and/or Nausea
During the early stages of labour, some women may feel nauseous or light-headed. If symptoms persist, we recommend having your blood pressure checked by a medical professional to eliminate any potential conditions.
A general feeling of tiredness or exhaustion could be your body’s way of telling you to take it easy and rest because labour is about to happen. Enjoy resting with your feet up or indulge in that day nap while you can.
Due to the weight of the growing baby, it isn’t unusual for women to experience back pain. However, back pain can intensify right before labour starts due to cramping in the pelvic and rectal areas.
Hip pain can occur because a hormone call Relaxin is working to loosen all the ligaments and muscles in the lead up to labour. This can start as early as the second half of the menstrual cycle.
If you start to feel cold and get a case of the shivers that last a couple of minutes, don’t worry. It might be a sign that your body is gearing up for labour, by relieving itself of tension.
Urge to Nest
The urge to nest for some women can be very strong in the lead up to going into labour. If you find yourself clearing out the pantry for no apparent reason, or arranging the nursery for your baby’s arrival, it might be a good sign! Whilst these little bursts of energy to organise can be a welcome change especially if you’ve been experiencing fatigue, try not to overdo things. If labour is close, you are going to need your energy.
Your Baby Has Been Very Active
According to the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, up to the start of labour and even during the early stages of labour, the baby will continue to move quite a lot. Don’t be surprised to feel your baby kick either during or after a contraction!
You Look and/or Feel Like the Baby Has Dropped Lower into Your Pelvis
‘Lightening’ or ‘Lightening Crotch’ occurs when the baby’s head drops lower into the pelvis in preparation for birth. Whilst this can begin a couple of weeks before the birth, it’s a good indication that it is approaching. As the baby drops down, the pressure on the lungs also decreases, just in time for labour!
Increased Urge to Urinate
So, your baby has dropped, and you feel like you can breathe more easily…but now there is more pressure on your bladder, so you’re likely to experience a more persistent urge to urinate, and more frequently. Hold on in there, you’re on the home stretch!
Your friends and your midwife might forget to tell you about this one, but loose stools are quite normal for some women at this stage and can indicate labour isn’t too far away. When you consider the heavy-duty pushing you’ll be doing soon, let’s face it, getting it out now isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Just ensure to keep your fluids up, and if symptoms persist contact your health care provider.
Unless your midwife or obstetrician examines you, the likelihood is that your cervix will be busy doing what cervixes do in the lead up to labour without you being any the wiser. It can begin to open and thin out a couple of days before labour starts. This is one of the sure signs that baby is coming, ready or not!
Losing the ‘Mucous Plug’
As the cervix begins to thin and open, you may notice a mucous plug coming away. The so-called mucous plug looks pretty much exactly as you’d imagine from its name – and is a snotty, jelly like cork that has functioned to seal the uterus from infections during your pregnancy. Once again, it’s an extremely good indicator that your pregnant body is taking care of business, and the wheels are in motion!
Vaginal Discharge Known as ‘Bloody Show’
As your cervix dilates and begins to widen to allow your baby to pass through, a small amount of blood and mucous, referred to as a ‘bloody show’ may occur. This is a sign that the blood vessels in the cervix are rupturing as it effaces and dilates, in preparation for the baby’s birth.
Your Pet May Be Acting Differently
Okay, hear us out. This may sound like a strange one, but many people report their pets acting differently in the lead up to their labour. Some pets, it seems, are sensitive enough to know when things are going to happen.
Your ‘Waters Break’
Although it may seem hard to believe, not everyone knows. Immediately that their waters have. Broken, as it isn’t always experienced as a ‘gush.’ Some women experience it as a ‘pop’ much like a balloon popping, whilst others may have a slow ‘leak.’ Furthermore, with the increased pressure on the bladder, it’s also easy to confuse urine for amniotic fluid. If your waters break, or if you aren’t sure if they have or not, contact your health care provider and have a professional check you over.
You Have a Gut Feeling
Much is said about a woman’s intuition, don’t be too quick to discard a ‘feeling’ you get, and listen to your gut!
Strong and Regular Contractions
If you’ve been experiencing strong, regular, rhythmic, and intense contractions that are closer than 5 minutes apart for more than an hour or two, this is usually a very good sign that labour is imminent! Get excited! You’ll very likely be meeting your baby for the first time, very soon!
Be Prepared For Your Baby As Well
Bringing home a new baby will also be full of surprises. You are entering another great unknown. To help you on that journey, we developed Goldilocks which helps new parents to navigate the unexpected.
We offer personalised insights for your newborn to allow you to parent your way.
Disclaimer: This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information provided on this website is not intended to diagnose or prescribe. In all health-related matters we recommend consulting with your local healthcare professional.