Labor Signs & Symptoms

If you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, you’re probably wondering what your labor will be like and how you will know if you’re in labor. Luckily, most of the time, your baby’s arrival doesn’t come unannounced! There are signs of approaching labor that will tell you when it’s time to head to the birth center or notify your midwife.

Labor begins with uterine contractions and ends with the delivery of the baby and placenta. Here’s how you can figure out if labor is starting for you.

What are the signs that labor is near?

While the signs and symptoms of early labor vary for each mother and depend on factors like whether it’s your first baby or not, here are some early pointers for labor:

  1. Cramps: These may feel like period cramps. They may not be as painful as contractions but you can still notice them. Cramps can begin a couple of days before labor and come and go by the hour
  2. Feeling of pressure in your pelvis: As your baby drops down in your uterus, you may feel increasing pressure in that area or your lower back
  3. Contractions: Contractions can begin with varying intensities for everyone. Most women start to feel short contractions that last for up to a minute before disappearing. These increase in intensity as labor progresses
  4. Loss of Mucus Plug: Your cervix is sealed by a mucus plug to protect the baby during pregnancy. As you’re near labor and your cervix begins to dilate, the mucus plug may come out and may be noticeable as a blob of white jelly-like material. 
  5. Your water breaking: You will notice a gush of watery liquid coming out of your vagina when your water breaks. This is the breaking of the membranes surrounding your amniotic sac and strongly indicates the beginning of labor.

How does labor pain start?

Pain during labor is due to your uterus contracting to elevate pressure in your cervix and help it dilate. This pain may start as mild discomfort initially, proceeding to contractions. In the beginning, the contractions are shorter and far apart. So they can be a minute long and be 5 to 15 minutes apart. 

However, as labor progresses the pain of contractions becomes more intense as they begin happening more frequently. So you may have contractions happening every 5-10 minutes for longer durations at a time.


What does labor pain feel like?

While every mother has different pain thresholds, true labor contractions are known to be very unsettling. Most women claim to not be able to talk or walk during these. Imagine a period cramp but make it stronger and more frequent. A lot of mothers also compare it to a bad gas pain.

It may also feel like intense pressure in the lower back that does not ease by changing positions. It may get progressively worse as your baby travels down.

That being said, you will make it through! Thousands of women do it daily and you’re just as capable and strong to get through labor. You’ll also be in great hands with our capable team. Just remember to breathe and follow your midwife’s lead.