Early Signs of Labor

You may have early signs of labor of labor as early as eight months along. You will notice many changes in your last trimester as your body prepares for labor.

Your Uterus Prepares for labor

early signs of labor

One of the most obvious of the early signs of labor is your uterus warming up for birth. Initially, you may feel a tightening of your abdomen. You may not feel anything, but you will simply notice your stomach is hard, like a watermelon, for a few seconds. Over time this will progress until you feel a bit of cramping during pregnancy and have frequent Braxton Hicks contractions. This is your uterus’s way of strengthening itself and preparing for the hard work of opening and expelling your baby.

Although Braxton Hicks contractions are not proper labor, they do cause the cervix to dilate for a number of women. Read Frequent Braxton Hicks Contractions to understand whether or not you are having warm-up contractions or are in the Early Stage of Labor.

Other early signs of labor include:

  • A dull pain in your back – either intermittent or constant
  • Lower abdominal cramping that may feel like gas pain
  • Increased pressure in the pelvis or vagina
  • Increased vaginal discharge

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Your Blood Volume Increases

While you can’t see or directly feel this early sign of labor, your blood volume increases by 50% during pregnancy to bring nutrients to your baby and as a natural safety factor. A healthy pregnant woman can lose a lot more blood during birth than someone who isn’t pregnant because of this increase in blood volume. This is nature’s way of protecting you from the natural blood loss that is part of delivering a child.

Your Tissues Soften, Darken and Become More Vascular

Your body will produce Hyaluronidase and Relaxin to soften your tissues. This will soften the cartilage in your pelvis and make your ligaments more elastic so that your baby can pass thru easily. You can tell that this early sign of labor is happening because it will get hard to stand on one leg or do things that puts uneven pressure on your pelvis. Your pubic bone may ache. You will feel less stable. You will become clumsy. You need to be more careful so that you don’t injure yourself due to the softening of your tissues or due to your center of gravity moving upward as your baby grows.

Another early sign of labor is skin changes. Your skin will change, becoming more vascular and more susceptible to sunburn. Although this may cause your gums to bleed easily, this is good because it allows your skin to stretch more and prevents tearing. To protect your skin, you need to wear extra sunscreen and stay covered up to prevent abrasions. Be extra gentle with your gums when you are brushing your teeth.

Hormone changes will likely cause a dark line to appear extending from your pubis to your belly button. You may suddenly grow extra hair and/or find rogue long hairs in weird, unexpected places.

Your cervix will start softening and the mucous plug - which helped seal your cervix - will come out all at once or will mix with the extra blood around your vagina causing it to liquefy and drip out. You may or may not notice this early sign of labor because women often miss this discharge mixed with blood in their underwear or in the toilet.

Another early sign of labor is your cervix oozing a little blood due to the rupturing of the little capillaries as it softens and starts opening. Therefore you should not worry if you spot a little at the end of your pregnancy.

Learn more about the stages of labor and delivery

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Your Breasts Prepare for Breastfeeding

Another early sign of labor is your breasts will get larger and your nipples will get darker. If you have fair skin, you may notice more blood vessels spidering across them. Your nipples will get darker to attract your baby and aid in breastfeeding. Your breasts are also working to produce immunities which will protect your baby in the outside world. Drops of colostrum can be expressed up to a month before delivery.

Most people aren’t aware that babies are not born with a robust immune system. The majority of their immune system will develop over their first two years of life based on what they are fed and what they come in contact with. This is why breastfeeding is so important. It is nature’s way of protecting your baby at the same time it helps her develop a strong immune system. Read more about the advantages of breastfeeding.

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Don’t Let Early Signs of Labor Distress You

All the changes in your body can be a little unnerving, especially the first time around. Welcome these early signs of labor because they are all indications that your body is preparing normally. As much as you may hate feeling unstable and clumsy, the softening of your tissues is an indication that your baby will be able to come out easily.

Don’t worry, your body will go back to “normal” after your baby is born. You will become coordinated again, rogue hairs will miraculously disappear and your gums will stop bleeding. Best yet, you will hardly even notice because you will be too busy taking care of your little bundle of joy.

Quick Links for More Information

StudyWomb™, the Online Natural Child Birth Education Classroom
Birth Plan Template
Stages of Labor and Delivery
Early Stage of Labor
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Cramping During Pregnancy