The moment is almost here! If you're reading this, you're probably waiting for your water to break and wondering when you will make your way to the hospital. Funny thing is, for most women, that big gush won't happen. Instead, they will have their water broken artificially by a nurse. So how do you know when to go? There's actually an array of weird things that happen before labor that are a big clue that you need to have your bags packed and be ready to go!
1. You May Experience Irregular Contractions, For Weeks
Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as false labor pains, are the body's way of practicing for labor. When they occur, you'll feel a painless tightening in your lower abdomen. This is NOT to be confused with pre-labor contractions, which also bring a tightening feeling, along with a lot of pain.
What is the difference between these and regular contractions?
When you are in labor, your contractions will become stronger and more frequent over time. If you keep track of their length and recurrence, you will begin to notice a pattern. Unfortunately, our bodies don't always want to work the way we want them to, which means that you may experience irregular contractions in the weeks leading up to your baby's arrival.
One way to help figure out if you are in labor? Drink six to eight cups of water, go lay down, and wait a while. Dehydration during late pregnancy can actually cause irregular contractions to occur. Additionally, laying down can make irregular contractions stop. This will not work when you are in true labor.
2. Your Libido May Go Into Hyperdrive
It could be the idea that you won't be allowed to have sex for at least six weeks after giving birth or maybe it is that you are experiencing a Goldilocks moment and feeling pressure in just the right spot, but for some women, in the days and weeks before giving birth, they just gotta get some.
Sadly, despite old wives' tales, sexy time will not induce labor, but if you are one of the lucky few who experiences a spike in your libido, you might want to sieze the day before it disappears.
3. You Will Lose Your Mucus Plug
Let me paint you a prettier picture than the one that just entered your head. You are a bottle of fine wine. The mucus plug is your cork, and the wine is your baby. In order for the wine to come out, so must the cork. Best of all, it's not as disgusting as it sounds.
Your mucus plug will have a jelly-like texture and it will be the color of Vaseline. Unlike regular discharge, this will have a stretchy feel, akin to bubble gum. For some women, this popping of the cork is very noticeable. For others, it will come out in small increments while you pee, so you may not even notice it.
The mucus plug can come out hours to weeks before your baby comes, but either way, this is the first step in your baby's eviction from your belly!
4. You Will See a Bloody Show
This is the next weird sign that labor will be coming soon! Whoever coined this term made it sound a little more dramatic than it needs to be, because anyone who has experienced a period will scoff at this bloody show. However, once your mucus plug is gone, many women will notice a small amount of discharge that is tinged with blood, which can be red, pink, or brown. And yes, I said tinged.
If you notice a lot of blood, call your doctor immediately.
5. You Will Suddenly Be Able to Breathe, But Everything Will Feel Heavier
For months, you have likely been struggling to get a breath of fresh air into your lungs because your sweet baby's legs have been suffocating you. Thankfully, as labor approaches, you will get to experience a 'lightening.' This is when your baby will drop and you will suddenly feel as if you can breathe again.
Sadly, this gift of oxygen is usually accompanied with an intense pressure in your pelvis and a heaviness in your abdomen that's hard to ignore. This also means that you should be prepared to pee 24/7 because your baby in now wedged against your bladder. Thankfully, for most women, this happens close to their labor window so you won't have to deal with it for very long.
6. Lightning May Strike
This vaginal or pelvic pain is one of the most startling weird signs of labor. The aptly named 'lightning crotch' tends to happen after your little one has repositioned in your pelvis. When it happens, you will feel as if lightning struck you in the crotch. It's a jolt.
I will tell you, as someone who experienced this symptom multiple times, belly bands can help to limit these striking moments. You can also try to move around throughout the day and switch positions often to prevent your baby from hitting that particular nerve.
7. You May Lose Weight, Or At Least Notice a Halt in Gains
When the bun is done cooking, he or she will stop growing! This means that your scale should stop rising as well. However, a weird thing that happens before labor is the loss of weight. This can seem a bit startling and even worrisome, but as long as it is a low drop, it is considered normal.
Healthcare experts note that "some women lose as much as 1 to 3 pounds of water weight" in the days before labor begins. In other words, if you see a change on your scale, labor could happen any day now!
8. Diarrhea May Occur
This is one of the reasons why you may notice a little weight loss. Another one of the weird signs of labor is diarrhea. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, your muscles begin to loosen and as you slowly begin to dilate, it becomes harder to hold everything in. This includes your bowels. Thankfully, this weird thing that happens before labor is another sign that your baby could come any day now!
9. You Will Get Very Tired
Naps will become a must in the last few weeks of pregnancy. First of all, take them. Take them all. Because sleeping when the baby sleeps is downright laughable advice. But as the big day approaches, you will notice the fatigue getting worse.
10. And Then Experience a Burst of Energy
With both my boys, especially my second, this burst of energy happened hours before I went to the hospital. Some call it nesting, but I think it's your body's way of helping you check off all of your last-minute items before you get busy with baby! Needless to say, with baby number two, I cleaned the house, finished grabbing all the items on our shopping list, and I even got an oil change. The moment we got home, I went into active labor.
Similarly, my mother tells a story of how she deep cleaned the house and was on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor when she went into labor. My dad had to force her to get ready to go because she was insistent on having a clean house before I arrived.
When the burst of energy comes, seize the moment, make sure your bags are packed, eat a solid meal, and gas up the car.
11. Your Pets May Become Extra Clingy
Many parents-to-be notice their pets acting wonky when they first become pregnant, but it turns out that this is also a weird thing that happens before labor as well! Many dog moms note that their furry family members become much more clingy and protective right before labor begins. This was definitely something I noticed with my dogs in the last few days of pregnancy.
Experiencing Weird Things Before Labor Is Actually Pretty Normal
If you are feeling weird before right your projected labor date, it may be time to finish packing and focusing on last-minute baby prep! This can ensure that things go as smoothly as possible. However, it's important to remember that every mom and every baby are perfectly unique, so what happens throughout your labor and delivery will be a one-of-a-kind experience. If you have any concerns, always consult your OBGYN.