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If there’s a time in pregnancy when women pay extra-special attention to their bodies, it’s the end of the third trimester.
The problem is, there are so many changes going on in your body that early labor signs (different from pre-labor signs) can be confusing.
What is the #1 mistake pregnant women make when it comes to early labor signs?
Thinking that every sign means they’re going into labor.
So often, women assume they are in labor when they are not and only add more worry, stress, and anxiety to their waiting body, and to the emotional experience of the baby in their womb.
As you approach the end of your pregnancy, you are most likely looking for every little sign that labor is imminent. However, it is also possible to miss signs of early labor because it may start off slow before accelerating into active labor quickly.
A full term pregnancy is considered any time between 37 and 42 weeks; once you hit that 37 week mark, you may be thinking “any day now!” and you are not incorrect, but you also may have up to 5 more weeks.
“Only 3-5% of babies are born on their estimated due date, with around 40% of babies being born in the two weeks before their estimated due date and another 40% in the two weeks after.” // www.bellybelly.com
In these last few weeks of pregnancy, here are some pre- and early labor signs to watch for to avoid making the mistake of assuming you are in labor when you are not.
PRE-LABOR: Braxton Hicks contractions. These practice contractions are a tightening of your uterus, but are not strong enough to actually push Baby out of your body. They are inconsistent and irregular. Braxton Hicks contractions start at the top of your uterus and tighten their way down. Many women mistake these for true contractions but, unfortunately, they are not. Change positions and see if that stops them.
EARLY LABOR: True contractions. These become regular and stronger with each passing hour. Early labor contractions may begin fairly calmly and painless, thus offering you a chance to miss them. These contractions will be both in your lower back and wrap around to the front of your uterus.
NESTING: Many women experience a sudden burst of energy. This often goes unnoticed as a sign of early labor. You may begin organizing and cleaning, baking and preparing every last thing for the arrival of your little one. This happens when surges of hormones hit your body, preparing you for labor.
DISCHARGE: Whether your mucus plug begins to or entirely falls out, or bloody show begins to appear after your contractions, these are both signs that you are in or preparing for early labor. However, your mucus plug may begin to or completely fall out weeks before you deliver your baby. Don’t take it as a sign that Baby will arrive tomorrow!
DROPPING: Some women notice when their baby drops; others do not. As your baby begins his or her descent into your pelvis, you may feel as though you are waddling more than ever. There will be a definite increase of pelvic pressure and possible relief for your diaphragm, making breathing easier. Be ready to increase your bathroom breaks.
RUPTURED MEMBRANES: A mistake often made is assuming a small leak in your water-breakage means “your water has broken.” Your body may let out a slow trickle and not fully gush out; labor is coming but maybe not as soon as you had hoped. And do not worry–your fluids will be replenished as the leak occurs! Do not count on your water fully breaking and gushing out until you are in very active labor.
There are a lot of signs you are in early labor. Do your best to not over-think or overreact, assuming your baby will arrive at any moment! As the days pass and your baby remains inside, it will be more and more difficult to continue on in your pregnancy without hopelessness if you are always assuming you are in labor.
We root you on, Mama! Your baby will come when he or she is ready!
Featured image source: www.centerforspinaldisorders.com