Signs of impending labor and the early phase of labor

According to my Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Preparing for Childbirth book, The most common signs that labor may soon begin include:
  • Baby drops/engages into pelvis (called "lightening) - this may occur 2-4 weeks prior to labor in first-time moms but normally not until labor begins if you have previously had children [I have felt this for 3 days now]
  • Your abdomen usually appears lower and protrudes more [yep]
  • You may experience greater ease in breathing, relief from heartburn, and be unable to eat larger portions [I haven't hard trouble with any of this my entire pregnancy this is N/A]
  • Increased backache [I have been in so much pain for 24 hours now]
  • Increased awkwardness in walking [I am having a really difficult time just getting around since last night]
  • Increased frequency of urination [every 2 hours the past 72 hours]
  • Frequent bowl movements [numerous times a day in the last 72 hours]
  • Diarrhea or flu-like symptoms [N/A]
  • Increased vaginal discharge [yep]
  • Increased Braxton-Hick's contractions [they have been much more frequent in the past week]
  • Possible "bloody show" or loss of the mucus plug [N/A]
  • A sudden burst of energy called the "nesting instinct" 24-48 hours before the start of labor; you may feel a strong urge to clean and prepare for baby [I have had this for about a week now but it's been really strong the past 48 hours]
  • A loss or leveling off of weight; it's common to lose 1-3lbs of fluid before labor begins due to hormonal shifts [my 39 week appointment is tomorrow, we'll see if I'm still sitting at 7lbs gained or have lost weight]
  • You may just feel different, "off" [I feel very "off" and have since 3:30am]
  • Your water may break [N/A]
So, what happens next?

The Early Phase of Labor.

What is the "Early" phase of the first stage of labor?

Effacement and dilation of the cervix from 0 - 3 centimeters with contractions that are 5 to 20 minutes apart, lasting 30-45 seconds.  Contractions become longer, stronger, and more frequent over time.

It's important to relax, begin slow-paced breathing, assume an upright position as much as possible and to alternate being up with alternate periods of rest.  You should try and empty your bladder every hour, drink plenty of clear fluids, eat lightly, walk & change positions, and call your Physician/Midwife.

So, how do you know you are in the "Early" phase of the first stage of labor?
  • Contractions are often described as a cramping or tightening sensation that starts in your back and moves around to the front in a wave-like manner.  Others describe it as severe pressure and minimally painful, if at all.  Each will gradually get stronger until it peaks and then slowly decrease and go away.
  • Contractions may be irregular at first but become regular over time
  • Contractions get longer, stronger, and closer together over time
  • Walking usually makes them stronger (opposite of Braxton-Hick's)
  • Lying down or changing positions does not make them go away (as would with Braxton-Hick's)

I have almost all of the signs of impending labor and I am fairly confident I am having real contractions today so, I'm timing them and staying close to home today. 

We will keep you all posted, keep us in your prayers in the coming days!


  1. Ahhh! So exciting. :)

    Good luck Amanda! I hope that if this is it, everything goes smoothly and you and baby have a safe delivery. Keep us posted when you can.

  2. Good luck sweetheart! I hope this is it! <3

  3. So exciting! I hope it all goes well and the timing works well with your mom arriving.

  4. Good luck! So excited for you and hope that it all goes smoothly!

  5. I tried to post a comment not long after your entry posted, but it seems that it doesn't work from the phone. Good luck, wishing you the best, and keeping you and your family in our prayers! :)


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