10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Labor You Need to Know

Signs that Labor is 24 to 48 Hours Away

Although pregnancy is hard to bear throughout period, the last few weeks become challenging. It is like a clock is ticking, and every second that goes by seems like a year. You get fed up waiting for the magical moment.

The only thing in your mind is to look for the signs of labor. You might have discussed the symptoms with your midwife or an experienced person. But everyone has a different answer to your question.

That is because pregnancy is different for every woman, and so are the signs of labor. Therefore, you don’t need to have the same signs as your friend.

According to experts, you cannot rely on the symptoms to precisely predict your due date.

Nonetheless, there are some common signs of labor that you should know about. It is essential to prepare you for your due date. Knowing these signs will also enable you to understand the difference between a false alarm and actual labor.

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What is labor?

Labor occurs when your unborn child is all set to come out and see the world. Also known as childbirth, labor happens when your uterus starts contracting. During contractions, your uterine muscles shorten and tighten in a wave-like manner.

Uterine contractions cause dull pain in your lower abdomen and back and exert pressure on the cervix. These movements help your cervix dilate, pushing your baby into the birth canal.

Signs of Labor

Usually, labor has no clear-cut signs. Every pregnant woman experiences different symptoms, or for some, it is spontaneous.

Signs of labor typically start as early as three weeks before the expected date and may remain for two weeks past the due date.

Here is the list of possible signs of labor.

  1. Frequent urination.
  2. Cervical dilation.
  3. Mucus plug loss.
  4. Back pain.
  5. Baby dropping.
  6. Diarrhea
  7. Water Breaking.
  8. Pelvic Pressure.
  9. Nesting
  10. Contractions

Frequent Urination

In the last weeks of pregnancy, you feel an urge to visit the washroom more often than usual. This urge to urinate again and again is one of the most common signs of labor.

Frequent urination happens when your baby comes down and exerts more pressure on your bladder. That is why you have to take a leak repeatedly.

Hence, consult your healthcare provider if the same thing is happening with you.

Cervical Dilation

When your due date is near, your fetus must pass through the cervix and into the vagina. The cervix needs to expand. This expansion of the cervix is known as dilation to facilitate this movement.

Dilation occurs due to the solid uterine contractions which push the baby down and exert pressure on the cervix. Due to the stress, your cervix expands slowly.

Your healthcare provider will measure the dilation in centimeters. A fully dilated cervix is 10 cm, the same size as your baby’s head.

Mucus Plug Loss  

To prevent infectious bacteria from reaching your baby through the uterus, a thin layer of mucus is formed in the uterine opening, the cervix. It seals the passageway for the entry of bacteria.

This mucus layer is called mucus plug and is secreted by the glands present in the cervix.

When your due date close, your baby starts descending into the pelvis, putting pressure on the mucus plug. Which, in turn, causes the mucus plug to fall out.

The passing of mucus plug is different for every pregnant woman. In some women, the mucus plug is expelled when labor begins. While in others, the process starts days before the beginning of childbirth.

Back Pain

During the last weeks of pregnancy, your body goes through various changes. These changes are meant to prepare your body for childbirth.

Back pain is generally caused by:

  • Some hormones are affecting the pelvis.
  • Expanding uterus and growing baby that exert pressure on your back.

The backache is sharp and remains till the end.

Generally, back pain alone is not considered a sign of labor. However, immediately contact your doctor if it comes with some other signs.

Baby Dropping 

Your fetus tries to change position and moves its head down towards the pelvis. This process is also called lightening. As the lightening begins, you feel like peeing all the time.

Also, as the baby goes away from the stomach, it gives you more room to breathe easily and lessens heartburn.

Some women experience lightening one or two weeks before labor, while for others, it happens hours before childbirth.


Many pregnant women ask the same question frequently, is diarrhea a sign of pregnancy? If you are one of them, we have the answer for you. Yes, diarrhea is a common sign of pregnancy.

The hormone prostaglandin is produced by your body to prepare itself for labor. Along with softening the cervix, it also triggers the production of loose stools, which causes diarrhea.

Although, there might be other reasons for diarrhea like hormonal imbalance, diet changes, and taking prenatal supplements.

Whatever the reason, you must stay hydrated and look for any other symptoms.

Water Breaking

Your baby remains in a bag-like structure of a membrane known as chorioamnion. This bag contains amniotic fluid, a mixture of secretions from the placenta and your baby’s skin and lungs.

When your water breaks, the fluid leaks out, not the mucus plug, which is a protective layer of mucus.

Probably your other question will be, why does water break?

The answer is when your baby tries to come down into the cervix, it pushes its head against the membrane, chorioamnion. As a result, this membrane breaks, and amniotic fluid comes out.

You might have frequently seen water-breaking scenes in the movies, but it is not that common. According to research, water breaking before labor is experienced by only ten percent of women. Most of the time, this event occurs during childbirth.

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Pelvic Pressure

Pelvic pressure is associated with lightening or baby dropping. When your due date is near, the baby moves downwards into the birth canal.

As the baby enters the vagina, it exerts pressure on your pelvis. The pressure feels like a press or milder pain in the pelvic region.

Some women may feel the pressure before labor; however, some experience it only at the delivery time.


Nesting works like your sixth sense. It is a strong feeling that urges you to prepare for your baby. Everything you do, from cleansing to shopping for your unborn baby, is based on nesting.

Almost every woman experiences nesting. The majority believe that nesting is mother nature’s way of signaling you about your baby’s birthday. That is why you get bouts of energy from nowhere.

So, what does nesting feel like? Here are a few signs that you are experiencing nesting already:

  • A solid desire to shop for your unborn.
  • Cleansing and vacuuming every corner of the house.
  • Preparing hospital bag.
  • Washing clothes and folding towels.
  • Searching for new baby products online.

Although, nesting is a positive thing. However, being obsessive is not suitable for you.

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Last but not least, labor contractions. Contractions are the most apparent sign of childbirth.

During labor contractions, your uterine muscles contract and relax periodically. Your abdomen hardens when uterine muscles tighten and softens when they relax.

Nonetheless, every woman feels contractions differently. For some women, labor contractions feel like menstrual cramps, while for others, they cause discomfort and back pain.

Labor contractions start when your pituitary glands release a hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin then triggers the tightening of uterine muscles, which leads to contractions.

There you go, the ten most common signs of labor. If you are nearing your due date and experiencing more than one sign of labor, as mentioned above, talk to your healthcare provider because only your doctor can differentiate between false and true labor.

Additionally, you might as well want to know about stages of labor. There are three primary stages of childbirth:

  1. Frequent contractions are the first stage of labor. This stage can last from three to four hours.
  2. The second stage is the most awaited moment. It is the delivery of your baby. This stage may last from a few minutes up to hours.
  3. The third and final stage of labor is delivering the placenta. This stage can take thirty minutes to an hour.

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Kelly Wilson
Kelly Wilson
Dream big, play hard, take the wins and embrace the losses.


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