woman who doesn't know if she's in labor thinking "okay, was that something?"
3rd Trimester Labor + Delivery Being Pregnant

"How Do I Know if I'm in Labor?"

By Amy Morrison

This seems like a no-brainer, right?

You start feeling contractions at 40 weeks and you give birth. Easy peasy.

Well, the signs aren’t always that simple. As you know, there are many burps and toots and that go along with pregnancy so it’s often hard to tell what’s just a random pain, puddle or purdle, and when it’s really showtime.

Plus, very few women go into labor on their due date (fewer than 5%) so try not to do what I did and count down the days to your due date figuring that’s when the baby would get here because it rarely happens and you’ll be one grouchy land manatee.

Here are the top 3 signs to know that you are in labor and how to tell if it’s just a false alarm:

1: Passing your mucus plug

Ah yes, the mucus plug. Once again medical professionals have outdone themselves with the most disgusting terminology they could come up with.

Essentially you’ve lost the seal that kept your cervix closed for the past nine months. It may come out as a lump or as increased discharge over a few days. The mucus may be tinted with red or brown, which is referred to as “bloody show”. Yep, bloody show.

I think we should refer to it as a baby cork and womb sealant.

No need to worry because it just means that the lid is off – labor could start in a couple of hours or even a couple of weeks. Just mention it to your medical practitioner when you see them next. Unless there’s blood, like real bright red bleeding, which could indicate issues with your placenta so shuffle off to hospital stat if you spot that.

2: Contractions

Contractions are a good hint but Braxton Hicks contractions are always lurking to make you feel like a dummy for hitting the “showtime” button.

Try walking around if you have them though.

Braxton Hicks contractions usually fade if you’re up and moving around versus sitting. Contractions also tend to get more intense with walking so that’s a good clue.

If they start coming at regular intervals and increase in, you’re probably ready to rock and roll. What you’re waiting for is 1-5-1, which is having contractions that are 1 minute long, every 5 minutes, for 1 hour. If you’re high risk your practitioner will probably want you in sooner.

3: Water breaking

You know how in movies a woman is always standing at a party while she delivers her “Oh my God, my water just broke” line accompanied by a gush of water? Well, this doesn’t happen to many women. In fact, most women are well into labor before their water breaks.

It is more likely to be a leak rather than a gush although those are sometimes hard to distinguish from sneaky urine and vaginal discharge, which are two other delightful side effects when you’re this pregnant.

The easiest way to tell if you’re leaking amniotic fluid is to lie down. The fluid will pool in your vagina and come out when you stand up – pee and discharge won’t do that. (Still wondering? Here are few more tips to help determine if it's amniotic fluid or pee.)

If you find you are leaking, pack yourself up and assume that you’ll be giving birth shortly. Once your water breaks you’ll either go into labor in the next 24 hours or your practitioner will start it for you.

Oh, if the fluid is green or brown call your doctor or midwife right away because that’s a sign that your baby may have pooped in utero and you don’t want the little monkey ingesting that.

I’m not in labor but I want to be!

If you want to try kick starting your labor you can try some of these tips.

However, unless you’re coming up on the 42 week mark or have a medical condition that would deem you high risk, most medical professionals suggest you leave it alone and let the little weeble bake as long as they feel necessary.

So stay tuned, my darlin’ and use this time to answer the phone saying “No, the baby isn’t coming yet and I’m charging everyone $5 that asks me that from now on.” By my calculations, you should have roughly $45,675 by the time you give birth.

Hang in there.

If you’ve given birth, how did you know you were in labor?

Drop a comment below!

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