Signs of Labor

As you approach the last weeks of pregnancy, you may wonder when labor will begin, whether symptoms you may be having could be the start of labor, and when you should call your doctor or head to the hospital.

There will be many signals your body will give you to let you know you are preparing for labor. Below is a list of some of the most common signs of labor.

Signs of labor


Dropping, also known as lightening, occurs when the baby descends into the pelvis. You may experience a subtle downward shift in the baby's position or you may notice an obvious "drop" of your belly. You may not notice anything at all. Second time moms will often not notice dropping until the onset of active labor.


Some women will experience an intense urge to clean, organize their home, or other efforts to prepare for baby. This may range from a sudden urge to cook a month's worth of freezer meals to sorting out all the socks for the baby in the nursery to scrubbing the floors on hands and knees. Not all women experience nesting, but it is a common sign of labor nonetheless.


Menstrual like cramps are another symptom of labor. Backache and leg cramps may also occur. As the baby drops into pelvic inlet he or she will put pressure on your nerves which can cause cramping in your legs.

Pelvic pressure

You may notice an increase in pelvic pressure or a feeling like baby is going to "fall out". This pressure increases as your pregnancy nears to an end.

Mucous plug and bloody show

You may notice an increase in vaginal discharge, particularly mucousy discharge. You may lose your mucous plug completely or it may break off a little at a time. If you lose your mucus plug and it is tinged with blood, this is considered bloody show. Although not always, labor usually begins within 72 hours of bloody show.

Water breaking

Labor usually begins shortly after rupture of your amniotic membrane .Water breaking may feel like a gush of water or a small trickle. You may even think you have urinated on yourself. If you think you are leaking amniotic fluid or your water has broken, it is important that you call your doctor right away. Most doctors will induce labor if the water has broken and labor has not begun on its own within 24 hours to prevent possible infections or complications.


You may notice an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions towards the end of pregnancy. As labor progresses contractions will increase in strength, frequency, and duration. Some general guidelines are to call your doctor once you are experiencing contractions consistently five minutes apart. Consult your physician for specific instructions on when to call and when to head to the hospital. Physicians protocol may vary.

Dilation and effacement

Your doctor may be monitoring your progress during the last few weeks of pregnancy. She may tell you that you have begun to dilate or efface. Dilation is the opening of the cervix where effacement is the thinning out of the cervix. Both are a good sign that labor may start soon.

Other signs of labor

Some women will notice nausea, diarrhea, restlessness, or irritability.

Average: 3.9 (557 votes)


By YukakoTanaka on 11/29/13 at 5:23 pm

I also recommend the PREGNANCY MIRACLE GUIDE for signs of labor!

By nanamama09 on 03/26/12 at 1:37 pm

[QUOTE=lildolphin8780]I'm 35 weeks 2 days with my 4th child. I have been having intense BH mostly at night. I have only gained 10 pounds total and somet  ...

By mommytimesthree on 12/08/11 at 11:25 am

I just turned 36 weeks, and currently "in labor". This has been going on since Nov 27. They stopped my labor twice, due to no NICU here. Now that i have  ...

Today on JustMommies

Best Bottles for Nursing Babies

f you’re in the market for baby bottles, you have particular needs if you’re a breastfeeding mom. You want to look for a bottle that mimics the motion, flow and feeling of breastfeeding to avoid “nipple confusion”.

Best Last Names for First Names

Giving a child a family name has long been a popular tradition. Often boys are named after their fathers or girls after a grandmother or aunt. However, new parents create different trends.

Gender Identity: Raising a Transgender Youth

According to a report by the BBC, "the number of children aged 10 and under who have been referred [for] support services to help deal with transgender feelings has more than quadrupled in the last six years."

When Parents Aren't on the Same Page

Think back to the time before you became a parent: Maybe you talked with your partner about having children. Yet, your “parenting styles” may not have entered the conversation.

From The Message Boards

Baby Name Games

New Generation Caf 3

The grandkids now have kids. Roll the 6 sided dice, flip for genders. Last names are your choice....

Baby Name Games

New Generation Caf 2

Roll the 8 sided dice for each child. Flip a coin for genders. To name spouses and children, go ....

Baby Name Games

New Generation Caf 1

Roll the 8 sided dice to find out how many kids you have, flip a coin to find out genders. Each chi...

Unplanned Pregnancy


I hadn't been taking my pill consciously and I started bleeding one night I got worried and went to...

Pregnancy Questions

Can someone tell me if I'm pregnant ASAP!!!

I hadn't been taking my pill consciously and I started bleeding one night I got worried and went to...