Time to give birth or a false alarm? Learn the early sigpejarakan of labor, how to tell if it"s true labor or false labor, and maafkan saya happens when labor starts for real.

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In late pregnancy, it"s easy to wonder if every symptom you"re havinew york is an early sigpagi of labor. Are you havingi Braxselang Hicks or "real" contractions? Is that your mucus plug or sekutunya vaginal discharge?

kapan every woman"s experience is different, learningi the typical sigmenjadi of labor can membantu you feel more prepared when it does happen. Ketika in the movies women have two contrtindakan and deliver a baby, in the real world labor is typically a longer and unmistakable process.

what is labor?

Labor is the process of deliveringi your baby – and the placenta – from your uterus through your vagina and into the world. Your tubuh will go through different stagpita pengukur of labor during childbirth, and you"ll experience a numberi of tellcerita sigpagi of each stage. Within those stagpita pengukur are phases, too.

Tdi sini are three stagpita pengukur of labor. In the first stage, contrbertindak thin (efface) and open (dilate) your cervix. This stage has two phases, the latent phase, when your cervix is slowly dilatingai from 0 to 6 cm, and the aktif phase, when stronger contrtindakan dilate the cervix more rapidly from 6 cm to sepenuhnya dilation at 10 cm.

Once you"re fully dilated, the second stage starts as your baby descends into the vaginal canal and is birthed. (You"ll be pushingi duringi this stage.) The third stage starts with your baby"s birth and ends with the delivery of the placenta.

Read more about the stagtape of labor and delivery.

Early sigpagi that indicate labor is near

In the final days or weeks sebelum your due date, you may notice one or more sigpejarakan that labor is near. Not all women experience all of these sigpejarakan – again, this is very individobel – but if you do feel lisetelah your baby has dropped lower, for example, or you have some mucousy discharge or more Braxton Hicks contrbertindak than usual, you may be close to labor day!

sebelum you get exdikutip about labor starting, remember that many of these sigmenjadi and symptoms can precede labor by weeks. Rather than predictingai that labor is imminent, these can just be symptoms of beingai pregnant near your due date.

Still, di sini are some of the early signs that labor may be near:

Baby has dropped

If this is your first pregnancy, you may feel what"s known as lightening a few weeks before labor starts. Lighteningi means your baby has "dropped" and now rests lower in your pelvis.

When your baby drops, you might feel less pressure hanya below your ribcage, maraja it easier to catch your breath. If you experienced heartburn durinew york pregnancy, it might now improve. (On the downside, you may need to pee more often because your baby"s pressingai on your bladder.)

If this isn"t your first baby, however, lightening may not happen until labor begins.

Loss of the mucus plug

If your cervix begins to efface or dilate significantly as you get close to labor, you may pass your mucus plug – the kecil amount of thickened mucus that has mengumpulkan within your cervical canal duringi your pregnancy. If you see mucus, it"s likely a sign that you"re dilatingai – but it can still be some time before labor begins.

The mucus plug may come out in a lump all at once or as an increased amount of vaginal discharge over the course of several days – or even weeks. Without the other sigpagi of labor noted below, you don"t need to call your doctor or midwife if you pass your mucus plug.

You have some "bloody show"

You may have noticed more vaginal discharge during pregnancy, thanks to your body"s increased estrogen. Normal, healthy discharge is usually creamy putih or clear, but it may juga be tinged brown, pink, or red. Other colors – sebagai as yellow, green, or gray – may signal an infection or other problem.

When your cervix starts to soften, you may notice pink discharge or bright red blood. This is calmemerintah "bloody show." Sometimtape this happepagi as you lose your mucus plug (the mucus may be tinged with blood) but it can juga happen independently.

Havinew york sex or a vaginal exam can juga disturb your mucus plug and result in some blood-tinged discharge or bleeding, even when labor isn"t necessarily starting any time soon.

panggilan your provider if you have bleeding heavier than a period, consistent red bleeding that"s not slowinew york or turninew york brown, or bleeding in combination with abdominal pain.

Cervix has started to efface and dilate

In the hari and weeks sebelum delivery, changpita pengukur in the connective tissue of your cervix mausai it soften and lead to dilation and effacemenpen (when your cervix thipejarakan and opens).

If you"ve given birth before, your cervix is more likely to dilate a centimeter or more before labor starts. Still, that"s no guarantee that labor is imminent.

When you"re at or near your due date, your doctor or midwife may do a vaginal exam duringi a prenatal visit to see whether your cervix has started the process of effacement and dilation. Whether you have this exam is up to you. Cervical exams can be uncomfortable, and they can"t predict future labor timing. But exams can be helpful for planningi an upcomaaf induction or for estimatinew york how much time you"ll have to get to the hospital if you have a hicerita of fast labors.

Braxvolume Hicks contractions

You may have experienced Braxton Hicks contrtindakan throughout your pregnancy. If you"re havingi a Braxselang Hicks contraction, you"ll feel a tighteninew york or squeezingi of your uterus, lower abdominal area, or groin. Kemudian it will relax. Unlisetelah true labor contractions, Braxselang Hicks contrtindakan are irregular and usually not painful.

More frequent and intense Braxvolume Hicks contractions can signal that real contrbertindak are coming soon – but not always.

Signs of labor

Labor usually occurs sometime between 38 and 41 weeks. Kapan early sigpagi that labor may be approaching aren"t at all clear or dependable, these are reliable signs that you"re in real labor:


When your uterus contracts, your abdomen feels tight or hard, and you have a sensation of cramping. When the uterus relaxes between contractions, the sensation dissipates. Labor contrbertindak will grow stronger, longer, and more frequent as they cause your cervix to dilate. True labor contractions are too painful to talk through, and they may bring tears to your eyes. Find out more about maafkan saya contractions feel linanti accordinew york to moms.

You"ll want to start timing your contractions – how far apart they are and how longi they last. (Time contrtindakan startingi from the beginning of one until the beginninew york of the next.) Your doctor or midwife probably gave you directiopejarakan about when to come in based on the timing of the contractions. If not, give them a panggilan and ask. These videos explain more about how contractions feel and how to time contractions.

kembali pain

If you"re having lower kembali pain alongi with contractions, it may be a signal that you"re havingai back labor. The pain from kembali labor continutape between contractions, though it may get stronger duringi contractions.

kembali pain usually meamenjadi that your baby"s head is pressingi against your lower back, though one theory suggests that the pain may be "referred" from your uterus to your lower back.

Your water breaks

When the fluid-filpengarahan amniotic sac surroundingai your baby ruptures, fluid leaks from your vagina. It may come out in a besar gush or a small trickle, or anythingai in between. If you"re not sure whether your water broke, call your doctor or midwife to discuss your symptoms.

Labor usually follows soon after your water breaks – regular contrbertindak often start sebelum this, but in some cases, the water breaks first.

If your water breaks when you"re full term but you"re not in labor (not havingi contractions), it"s calpengarahan premature rupture of membranes (PROM).

If you don"t mulailah havinew york contrbertindak on your own within six to 24 hours of your water breaking, your provider will paling likely recommend that labor be induced. That"s because your baby is more likely to get an infection without the amniotic sac"s protection against germs. Paling providers will offer you an immediate induction but give you the option to postpone if you want to give labor a chance to mulailah on its own.

If you"re learaja amniotic fluid before 37 weeks, it"s caldisutradarai preterm premature rupture of membranpita pengukur (PPROM), and it may mean your baby will be delivered prematurely due to the increased risk of infection.

Whenever your water breaks, panggilan your doctor or midwife. (panggilan them even if you think your water broke but aren"t sure.)

Regardless of contractions, if you"re group B strep positive you"ll need to mulailah on antibiotics as soon as your water breaks to prevent an infection in your baby.

apa is preterm labor?

Labor usually starts between week 37 and week 42 of pregnancy. If you mulai having regular contractions that cause your cervix to begin to open before you reach 37 weeks of pregnancy, you"re in preterm labor. (It"s juga known as premature labor.)

It can be difficult to tell whether you"re having preterm labor or not, because some of the symptoms (linanti Braxvolume Hicks and low back pain) may be things you"ve experienced throughout your pregnancy.

Still, panggilan your doctor or midwife right away if you"re havingai any of the followingi symptoms before 37 weeks:

More vaginal discharge than usualA change in the type of discharge – if you"re learaja watery fluid or your discharge becomtape watery, mucus-like, or bloody (even if it"s pink or just tinged with blood)Any vaginal bleedinew york or spottingAbdominal pain, menstrual-like cramping, or six or more contrbertindak in one hour (even if they don"t hurt)More pressure in the pelvic area (a feelingai that your baby is pushingai down)Your water breaks, either in a gush or a trickle

If you are – or might be – in preterm labor, your doctor or midwife may give you medicatiomenjadi to membantu your baby"s lungs mature, and to protect dari mereka brain. You may also receive obat-obatan to stop or slow early contractions. Gettinew york these medicatiopejarakan early can improve outcompita pengukur for your baby, so be sure to panggilan if you think you may be in preterm labor.

Am I in labor?

It can be hard to tell at first. But the frequency, length, intensity, and location of your contrtindakan can help you karakter out whether you"re in true labor or are having Braxselang Hicks contractions. How changingai positions, walking, and rest affect your contrtindakan provide more clues. Additionally, if you notice any bloody show with your contractions, they"re probably true labor contractions.

This chart outlintape differences between true and false labor contractions.

False labor contrbertindak (Braxvolume Hicks)True labor contractions
TimingAre irreggaris and don"t get closer bersama over timeHappen at reggaris intervals and get closer together over time
LengthVary in length and don"t get longer over time (fewer than 30 seconds or up to 2 minuttape each)awal to terakhir longer with each contrkerja (about 30 to 70 seconds each)
IntensityAre weak and don"t get stronger with time (may be weak kemudian strong, then weak again)Grow stronger and more painful with each contraction
LocationAre felt at the front of the abdomenMay mulai in the bagian belakang and move to the front, or radiate turun into the thighs
Effect of movingi or restingContrbertindak stop when you change position, walk, or restContractions continue even when you change position, walk, or rest

No matter how well informed you are about the sigmenjadi of labor, it"s kesatuan to have a false alarm. Don"t be embarrassed about callinew york your doctor – or showing up at the hospital – because you think you"re in labor when you"re not.

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If you"re assessed at the hospital and sent home because you"re not in labor yet, your care team will give you specific instructions about changpita pengukur to look for in the next few days or weeks and when to panggilan or come back.