The baby's head will drop down into the pelvis, causing frequent urination and lower-back pain. Pre-labor contractions will feel stronger and come more frequently. There may be an increase in vaginal discharge, and you will pass the mucus plug, also called bloody show, which unseals the cervix. You may also have diarrhea and nausea. Some women may experience their water bag breaking. These symptoms of pre-labor do not happen all at once but rather occur during the last few weeks of pregnancy. During this time, your nesting instinct might kick in, causing you to clean and organize for the baby’s arrival.
Many women experience false labor. To avoid being sent home from the hospital, you can tell if you are having false labor if your contractions do not intensify or if they come at irregular intervals. For example, your contractions should not be spaced out over seven minutes, then 12 minutes, then two minutes and then four minutes. Also, if you can change positions, say from standing to sitting, and your contractions ease up, they are not labor contractions. You may also feel abdominal tightening as opposed to lower-back pain.
Labor contractions will come at regular intervals and progressively get closer together. They may start out lasting 30 seconds and increase to 60 seconds as they come more frequently. Your labor contractions will not feel better or stop when you change positions, but will actually worsen with the more activity you do. You may feel labor pain in your lower back or throughout your entire abdomen.
Packing a Hospital Bag
As you are waiting for true labor to begin, you can prepare your hospital bag. While the exact contents of every woman's bag will differ, some essentials are nightgowns or pajamas, slippers and socks, shower products, a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, a hairbrush and plenty of underwear. If you plan on breastfeeding the baby, pack nursing bras, nursing pads and nipple cream. Also pack homecoming outfits for you and the baby.