And so it begins… the countdown of sorts. This week I’m officially 37 weeks pregnant. The baby is full term and I’m less than 3 weeks from my due date. At my doctors appointment on Monday, she informed me that I’m 1cm dilated but that my cervix has yet to soften. I know that labor could be anytime, whether it’s a few days or still a few weeks. No one really knows what triggers the start of labor but if you’re in your first pregnancy like me, I’m sure you’ve read up on every sign that labor could be on it’s way. Here are a few signs of what you might expect during pre-labor:
The baby will “drop”. It wasn’t until my yoga instructor looked at me last week and said “Wow! Your belly has really dropped!!” that I’d even thought twice about it. As the baby begins to descend lower into you pelvis, you may notice that your belly looks a little lower than it’s once cute and round state. The good thing is breathing may come easier because your baby and uterus are no longer putting pressure on your lungs and diaphragm. This is commonly known as “lightening”. However, you might be feeling a little more discomfort in your hips and pelvis from the pressure of the baby’s head. Not to mention, you may be finding the need to pee more often too!
Increased amount of Braxton Hicks contractions. These “practice contractions” that you’ve probably been noticing for a few weeks, may increase in frequency and intensity. Typically painless without following regular patterns like real labor contractions, they’re warming up your uterus for the real thing. I’ve been noticing a lot of these lately. And they’re so odd, causing my uterus to ball up and get really hard in certain spots. Plus they often leave me feeling a little breathless!
You pass your mucus plug. As your cervix begins to dilate you may pass your mucus plug, the plug that fills and seals the cervical canal during pregnancy. Gross sounding term, right? But let’s face it. As gross as it may sound, that brownish-pink tinged plug is a hint that labor could be on the way.
You might experience a mood shift. Some women report feeling on cloud nine while others feel incredibly cranky and crabby. My husband would agree with the latter of the two. I’m moody and I have to think it’s partially due to being uncomfortable and a bit anxious for things to progress.
The nesting instinct kicks in. Suddenly overwhelmed by a strong urge to clean and organize your house? Find yourself sorting the baby’s clothes over and over or checking that the crib sheets are clean and spotless? Brought on by the desire to prepare your nest for the new baby, nesting may be strongest just before the onset of labor. I don’t think I’m nesting quite yet, but I have made sure all of our little man’s clothes are washed and neatly folded in the drawer!
While all of these are signs that labor could be on the way, unfortunately these pre-labor signs may occur anywhere from hours to weeks before you actually go into labor. I think at the end, we tend to want everything to be a pre-labor sign. I just suppose that after 9 months of waiting for this little babe to arrive, any signs that it could be close is a good sign to me.
What signs of pre-labor did you experience?