It's BABY TIME: 6 Signs You're (Really) In Labor! - Mumberry

It's BABY TIME: 6 Signs You're (Really) In Labor!

For roughly 40 weeks you've carry your little one, and finally you're due any day now. You’re getting checkups weekly and you have your doctor on speed dial. 

And then you feel it, a twinge of pain or tightening across your belly and pressure in your pelvis, and you're convinced it's time to head to the hospital since baby is sure to arrive any minute!  You notice that suddenly, your belly seems lower, maybe even much lower.

When you arrive, are checked in and evaluated you're told that you are not really in labor.  Perhaps you will stay to be monitored, or you may be sent home and encouraged to rest until more specific symptoms begin.

signs you're in labor

The truth is, it's a common occurrence, especially for first-time moms!

How do you know if you are ready in labor and its time to go to the hospital or call your midwife? If it's the real thing, then like one of these six signs will happening:

1. Contractions get longer and more painful:

First, it’s never a bad idea to check with your OB or Midwife if you notice any changes in pain or pressure.  Some labor experiences may include little pain.  

Early labor preparation in the uterus may cause symptoms such as Braxton-Hicks (prodromal/false labor) contractions.  These can start as early as the second trimester and increase markedly before your due date.  This makes it difficult to know if the pain and tightening you’re experiencing is labor preparation or real labor.

As a general rule, Braxton-Hicks’s contractions do not build in intensity or progress in pain.

What should labor contractions feel like?

As labor progresses, the contractions happen closer and closer together and are very consistent in time. Real contractions feel like powerful menstrual cramps and progress into longer, more regular intervals.  The cramping may be in the back or in the belly.

Did you know that there are over 12 drug free ways to reduce pain during labor

2. Contractions occur closer together, at regular intervals:

According to from the National Center for Biotechnology, " Braxton Hicks contractions are unpredictable. They may last less than 30 seconds or up to 2 minutes."

Where pre-labor or labor preparation tension or twinges may be 3-minutes apart and then 5-minutes followed by 1-minute.  Real contractions begin when those time intervals (from the beginning of the first to the beginning of the next) become consistent

Monitor frequenty and intensity of contractions using your phone or smart watch

Either way, do not guess.  Track your contractions using your phone or smart watch.  Phone call your provider.  To be safe, they may have you checked.  

3. Your water breaks:

When the fluid-filled amniotic sac bursts, this is a pretty good sign you’re in labor or labor is about to begin.  You are okay, babies are not reliant on the water after 24-weeks gestation and you may wait as many as 48 hours for labor to begin.  Still, it’s never a bad idea to notify your labor and delivery support team which such a change occurs.

Write down the time the water break and how much ‘seems’ to come out.  Call or text your doctor or midwife as she will want to know. 

Sometimes water will break before labor, most during but often they will leak.  You may feel like you’re urinating but know you are not.  If the volume is low, they may be leaking but not ruptured fully.

Tip: Consider adding a moisture pad to your underclothes to prevent soiling your garments or furniture during this time.  

If labor pains/contractions have not begun they likely will after the water break as the baby will move into the birth canal which prompts the cervix to thin and the uterus to contract.  It’s not always immediate, do not worry if labor does not begin just after the water break.  

If you are unsure if it’s time to move to your birth location, ask your doctor or midwife.  


4. You pass your mucus plug:

Your mucus plus has been forming and growing over the course of your pregnancy to seal your cervix and keep your baby safe from infections.

Indications - Body Changes Before Labor 2

Once it begins to pass (all at once or over the course of a few days) it means your cervix is widening to allow for the birthing process, so labor will likely begin shortly.

This may happen before your water breaks or during labor.  It’s possible you may not notice the plug passing if you begin labor and are with your support team when it happens. 

If you do pass a large ‘plug’ of mucus it may have some blood in it, do not worry, this is typical.  If you begin bleeding after you pass your plug, contact your doctor.  The basic rule, anytime you have blood, call.

 For more details, refer to the Cleveland Clinic, "Mucus Plug: What it is, looks, and mean"

5. You get diarrhea:

The same hormones that are released at the beginning of labor to help your cervix dilate can also stimulate your bowels to dilate and allow more liquid in your stool.

One benefit of the natural cleanse is a cleaner birth.  It’s normal for your body to prepare for birth by emptying the lower bowel, if not always pleasant.  To be more comfortable, increase your fluid intake and eat non-binding foods such as fruits.  Basically, avoid cheese, steak and other binding foods which may make this transition more painful and active.

dates during pregnancy

This symptom alone doesn't signify you're in labor, but paired with others on this list it can help you differentiate between false labor and the real thing.

Recommended reading:  Health Benefits of Dates During Pregnancy 

6. Your back is very achy, paired with pressure in the pelvis:

In false labor many women only feel pain the abdomen, but in real labor the pain often starts in the back and begins radiating to the front. This back pain is different than aches you may have had all along, and you'll definitely know that we're talking about and this excruciating "back labor" is a sure sign that you'll be delivering soon.


This is a very special time, but it can also be confusing and a little scary.  Labor pains and symptoms differ for every woman and every pregnancy.  Your hormones are changing, your body is almost foreign to you and the truth is, you’ve never had this particular child before. 

If you are scared, nervous, think you may notice a change you cannot explain, just call your support team (OB, Midwife, Doula, etc.).  A relaxed new mommy makes for a healthier baby and easier delivery.

What to Read Next:
How to Prepare Yourself for Labor & Birth
Top 10 Things to Buy Before Your Baby is Born
12 Great Ways to Reduce Pain During Labor
Best Foods that help reduce constipation during pregnancy

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