How do I know I'm in labor | UnityPoint Health - Dubuque
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What are preliminary signs of labor?

How Do I Know I'm in Labor?

One question many pregnant women ponder over is: How will I know when I'm in labor? And usually following that concern is: When should I go to the hospital? Fortunately the body provides various signs when labor is occurring, and these signs are usually fairly easy to detect.

Possible signs of labor

  • Backache
  • Menstrual-like cramps
  • Soft bowel movements
  • Nesting urge - a surge of energy with an urgency to make sure everything is ready for the baby

Preliminary signs of labor

  • Bloody show - as you get close to labor your body releases thick mucus that may be tinted brown, pink or red
  • Non-progressing contractions - contractions that do not get stronger or closer together

Positive signs of labor

  • Progressing contractions (getting stronger and/or closer together)
  • Gush or leaking of amniotic fluid from the vagina

You should go to Finley when:

  • You have four or more contractions per hour before 37 weeks of your pregnancy
  • Contractions that are five minutes apart for an hour after 37 weeks for your first baby
  • If this is your second baby, come when contractions are eight minutes apart
  • Leaking of fluid
  • Bright red bleeding
  • Sharp abdominal pain
  • Change in baby's movements

Stages of labor

  • First stage - dilation from 0 to 10 centimeters
  • Second stage - descent and birth of baby
  • Third stage - delivery of the placenta
  • Fourth stage - recovery/postpartum