The one sure sign of labor is contractions that steadily increase in duration and intensity. However, your body will probably give you more subtle clues for several days or weeks before the exciting day. Note these signs, but don't pay them too much attention. With the exception of breaking water, these signs indicate that labor may be a few days or even a few weeks away.
As your baby's birth draws near, she may drop into your pelvic cavity in preparation for the ride ahead. For first-time moms, this change may happen two to four weeks before the actual birth, according to the Web site AskDrSears. If you've had a baby before, your baby may not drop until a few days before or even right before you go into labor. Either way, you'll notice that you can breathe more easily because there's more space in your upper abdomen. At the same time, you'll probably need to urinate more frequently because your baby's sitting atop your bladder. You may also feel a dull ache or pressure in your lower pelvis, making walking more difficult.
Pesky False Labor Pains
As your time to give birth nears, you may experience false labor pains, especially in the evening after you've been on your feet all day. The intensity of these contractions may increase. Try to view them as useful. They begin the process of thinning out your cervix, says AskDrSears, and they can also help you prepare for birth. The strategies that ease these contractions, such as distraction, slow breathing, movement or warm water, can also help when real labor starts.
Energy to Burn
Some women experience a surge of energy a few weeks or even a few days before delivery. This "nesting" instinct drives women to make all those final preparations before the baby is born, says the American Pregnancy Association. Take advantage of this extra energy to pick up any last minute supplies and pop a few meals in the freezer, but don't overdo it. This is not the time to paint the nursery or landscape the yard.
During pregnancy, a mucous plug covers and protects the cervix. As your body nears labor, you may notice a bit of mucous in your underwear. The mucous may be clear, pink or tinged with blood. Many women don't lose this plug until they're in labor and don't even notice it. Leaking amniotic fluid is a sure sign that labor is near and is a reason to call your doctor. Only one in 10 women's water breaks before labor begins, according to AskDrSears. It's more likely that your water will break after you've experienced a few hours of moderate contractions. It may happen with a gush or with a slow leak. In either case, contractions usually intensify.