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Week by Week

Is This Really Labor?


Your body will usually give you clue that labor is beginning. You need to familiarize yourself with these signs.

Getting Ready

These are the signs that labor may be approaching, although they are not necessarily predictors of labor. They are good signs that your body is doing what is necessary to prepare for the birth. Some women notice them and others do not, either way is perfectly normal for you. You should not worry if you do not notice these signs.

  • A sudden burst of energy or the "nesting instinct"
  • Lightening or Dropping of the baby (you may be able to breathe easier and urinate more)
  • An upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody show (this may be the cervix beginning to open, or from sex or a vaginal exam)
  • Loss of your mucous plug

Determining Labor

One of my personal favorite definitions of true labor that true labor ends with the birth of a baby. That is the easy way to tell if you are in labor. Most women are worried about knowing when they are in labor, and are unsure of when to call their care provider. Talk to your care provider about when they want to be notified about labor and use the following as your guidelines for labor.

True Labor


  • Contractions gets stronger and closer together
  • Contractions are in a fairly regular pattern
  • Walking or changing position makes them stronger
  • Contractions are usually felt beginning in the back and moving forward
  • Cervix opens and thins

I do not believe in the term false labor. There is pre labor that is very similar to labor, and can be experienced as painful. Even if it has been determined that you are not in "real labor," do not despair, for every contraction is one step closer to your baby.

Braxton Hicks or Pre Labor


  • Contractions remain the same strength, distance, and length
  • Contractions may be irregular
  • Walking or changing position does not affect the contractions
  • These contractions may be felt up high in the front

Rupture of Membranes

Sometimes labor begins with the bag of waters or membranes rupture, however, this usually does not happen until very late in labor. If your water breaks you may notice a near constant trickle of fluid from the vagina or a sudden gush. You should talk to your care giver about when to call about your waters breaking, but you should definitely notify them if you experience the following:

  • Fluid is not clear, but green or brownish
  • You have a fever

It is important to not place anything inside the vagina, so avoid:
intercourse, baths, and vaginal exams

Everyone experiences labor in a different manner. What you experience may be totally different from what you have read about. Trust your body. This preparation may seem to take forever, but your body and baby are making very important changes in preparation for the birth!


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