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Signs of Labor
9 Months Pregnant

You're nine months pregnant and watching for the first signs of labor. How will you recognize the symptoms of labor?

Towards the end of the last trimester, you may notice some of the following early signs of labor:

Time for Giving Birth
  • More frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions

  • Nesting - the urge to have everything ready, tidy or organized in your home

  • Increased back and pelvic pain

  • Lightening - the baby has shifted downward lower into your pelvis

As the onset of labor approaches, you may also notice the following:

  • Some increased cervical discharge

  • Frequent and/or loose bowel movements

  • Possible nausea or mild flu-like symptoms

More definite signs:

    1. Diarrhoea - a very loose stool. This is caused by the release of prostaglandins which cause cervical effacement and softening at the start of labor.

    2. Show - some women experience a 'show' of sticky mucous discharge. It may be streaked with pinky brown or even red. This is caused by the mucous plug that seals the opening of the cervix loosening in preparation for giving birth. You may begin 'losing the plug' little by little or it may be discharged all at once.

      This may occur days or hours before active labor begins, so don't get too excited yet. Use a sanitary towel and make sure your labor supplies are ready. If you have a bright red vaginal bleed, then get medical attention as this is abnormal.

    3. Regular contractions - labor contractions will feel similar to the Braxton Hick's contractions which you have possibly experienced in your last trimester. However, labor contractions are usually longer, stronger, more frequent and radiate around to your lower back too.

      You will feel a definite tightening and relaxing of your uterus. Try to relax and breathe through them. If you feel pain, compare the contractions with the sets of weight-lifting exercises that a body-builder does - work, then rest, then work again. However, each 'set' is bringer your baby closer to you. Remember, birth is a labor of love - it requires hard work.

      Some women experience what is sometimes called 'false labor'. These contractions are erratic and are not accompanied by any other signs of labor and eventually fade away. Do not be discouraged, these contractions are also preparing your uterus for 'real' labor.

      Don't rush to hospital or call your midwife at the first contractions, rather wait until they are 5 minutes apart, from the start of one to the start of the next one. If you go in too early, then interference and intervention is more inevitable.

    4. Water breaks - the medical term is 'rupture of membranes' (ROM). This occurs when the amniotic sac in front of the baby's head breaks, releasing some of the amniotic fluid.

      This is painless. You may feel a sudden warm gush in your underwear, as if you wet yourself, or it may be a slow leak. Use a sanitary towel and notify your caregiver. Usually one's waters break during labor, but sometimes it precedes the onset of labor contractions. If you do not spontaneously begin labor within a certain time frame, you may need to be induced.

More Pages Related to Signs of Labor

Stages of Labor

Your Pelvis is Designed for Birth

Birth Plan

The Benefits of Doula Support in Labor

Natural Pain Relief

Birth Supplies


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