Lightening: This happens when your baby's head "drops" down into your pelvis.
- Your belly will look lower. It will be easier for you to breathe because the baby is not putting pressure on your lungs.
- You may need to urinate (pass water) more often because the baby is pressing on your bladder.
- For first-time mothers, lightening often happens a few weeks before birth. For women who have had babies before, it may not happen until labor has begun.
Bloody show: If you have bloody or brownish discharge from your vagina, it may mean your cervix has begun to dilate. The mucous plug that sealed the cervix for the last 9 months may be visible. This is a good sign. But active labor may still be days away.
Your baby moves less: Women often notice that their baby is less active the day before labor begins.
- No one is sure why. It may be that the baby is saving up energy for the birth.
- If you feel less movement, call your doctor or midwife, as sometimes decreased movement can mean that the baby is in trouble.
Your water breaks: When the amniotic sac (bag of fluid around the baby) breaks, you will feel fluid leak from your vagina. It may come out in a trickle or a gush.
- For most women, contractions come within 24 hours of the bag of water breaking.
- Even if contractions don't begin, let your doctor know as soon as you think your water has broken.
Diarrhea: Some women have the urge to go to the bathroom often to empty their bowels. If this happens and your stools are looser than normal, you may be going into labor.
Nesting: There's no science behind the theory, but plenty of women feel the sudden urge to "nest" right before labor starts. If you feel the need to vacuum the entire house at 3 a.m., or finish your work in the baby's nursery, you may be getting ready for labor.