The signs of labor can be confusing. One of the biggest questions pregnant women have is am I in labor? While you might only have one or two of these or all of them, these are the basics of labor. Here are some of the top signs that labor is either coming soon or starting...
1. Mucus Plug
The cervix is "plugged" with a thick piece of mucous that helps protect your baby during pregnancy by blocking the entrance to the uterus. As your cervix changes and dilates, part of the mucus plug can be released. How much you see depends on how quickly these changes occur. You might only notice an increase in discharge or you may find the whole "plug" at once during a trip to the bathroom. Time to labor? Weeks to hours.
2. Bloody Show
Bloody show is a pink, brown or red tinged mucous that can be found when wiping while going to the bathroom or sometimes on your sanitary pad or underwear. This is a sign that your cervix is changing by dilating, thinning or moving forward in preparation for labor. Don't be fooled! You can also see this after sex or a vaginal exam in late pregnancy - this isn't the same thing. Time to labor? Varies from hours to weeks.
3. Loose StoolsLoose stools are caused by the release of prostaglandins in early which causes cervical effacement, softening, etc. Prostaglandins also can cause soft stools or diarrhea. Time until labor? Usually only a matter of a day or hours.
Contractions are what helps the cervix to dilate and open for your baby to be born. Many women will have contractions through out the end of their pregnancy. The difference between labor contractions and prelabor are the strength, frequency and intensity of labor contractions. Labor contractions get stronger, longer and closer together. (Read: How to Time Contractions)