As I awaited the birth of my seventh child, I found myself reminiscing and reflecting on the births of his siblings, too. Even with all my experience (and let me tell ya — it's pretty extensive), there are always surprises along the way!
If you're preparing mentally and physically for the intense and life-changing experience of delivery, this list might come in handy as you anxiously await your baby to enter this world!
What are the signs of labor?
The signs that indicate that labor has begun can vary from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy.
Here are some signs that labor might be coming:
Losing your mucous plug
Cervical change (Consistent cervical change is the only real indication that labor is happening)
Listen in as I chat about the six signs that labor is near.
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[00:00:00] Trish Ware, RN: My name is Trish Ware and I am obsessed with all things pregnancy and birth, and helping you to navigate with the practical and the magical seasons of this journey called motherhood. I'm an all day coffee sip and mama of seven, and labor and delivery. Who took her expertise in the labor room and turned it into an online one-stop shop.
[00:00:27] Trish Ware, RN: For mamas looking for powerful education and support, I've had the amazing privilege of delivering mini babies in my 15 plus year career as a labor and delivery nurse, and as a mama of seven. I'm here to help you take the guesswork out of childbirth so you can make the choices that are right for you and your baby, and write the birth story of your dreams.
[00:00:53] Trish Ware, RN: Hit subscribe, and let's replace your anxiety and fear with complete. [00:01:00] Confidence. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and does not replace your medical advice. Check out our full disclaimer at the bottom of the show notes.
[00:01:17] Trish Ware, RN: Hello, load. So we're gonna talk about a few things because inside of our birth courses and our pregnancy postpartum membership, I get more dms about. Signs of labor than probably anything else, let me say, signs of labor, water breaking and labor induction questions. So I wanna focus on some of those.
[00:01:43] Trish Ware, RN: We're thinking about having a labor induction workshop next week. Not sure yet if you guys want me to say yes, labor induction so that we can kinda help prepare you if you're having a medical induction. So let's talk about [00:02:00] some of the signs of labor. So we're gonna talk about like six to 10 signs and we're gonna talk about some of the like physical signs and then, Some emotional signs of what is happening.
[00:02:15] Trish Ware, RN: Now, what I want you guys to keep in mind, because no matter how many times I tell my girls, if any of my students are listening, they will know this is true. No matter how many times I tell my girls, they still, as soon as they have some of these signs, they're like, Baby's coming. But the truth of the matter is that your labor signs start well before labor.
[00:02:41] Trish Ware, RN: So it can even be weeks before labor, depending on what number baby. So the more babies you have, all the signs can come at once, right before labor. But with your first baby specifically, you are gonna have some things that happen. Sooner, farther from labor [00:03:00] is what I wanna say. So one of the things that happens that really is part of the process of labor actually starting and cervical dilation starting is lightning or the baby dropping.
[00:03:16] Trish Ware, RN: So if you've taken my fearless birth experience, or you've watched my labor pain workshop, which is my favorite workshop, The labor pain and labor in general starts from a process, and the beginning of that process is that baby's head putting pressure on your cervix. So when the baby lowers or the lightning happens, what that means is the baby's getting nice and nestled into the pelvis.
[00:03:45] Trish Ware, RN: The baby's head when the baby goes down into the pelvis, is now putting pressure. On what is called the cervix, which is the end of your uterus, and when that head begins to apply, the pressure your body. [00:04:00] Okay, it's time and starts releasing those amazing hormones and endorphins that get your labor going, namely oxytocin.
[00:04:10] Trish Ware, RN: So you're on a cycle here, baby moves down, puts pressure on the cervix. The cervix stimulates your brain. Your brain releases oxytocin. Oxytocin stimulates the contractions, the which it can be, Braxton Hs, as well as you're approaching labor. And those contractions, the squeezing of the uterus is squeezing the head down farther.
[00:04:33] Trish Ware, RN: onto the cervix. All in a beautiful circle. So lightning bloody show. This is probably the top number one picture that I get from my girls inside of my membership is pictures of what? Might be or might not be their muus plug. So one of the things I wanna tell you that I get asked all the time, but let me first tell you what that is.
[00:04:59] Trish Ware, RN: So [00:05:00] here's your cervix. This is actually a little bit of an open cervix, so this is perfect. Inside of your cervix is this goop, right, this plug. And it's like a gooey. almost looks like egg white mixed with some streaks of blood and brownish stuff. Right? And that is the plug. And what that is doing is protecting the inside where the baby is living from the outside.
[00:05:25] Trish Ware, RN: Yuck, right? So that plug is inside there. The reason it comes out is when you're cervix starts opening, the plug comes out, which totally makes sense. It can't stay in there. As it opens, it's loosening the grip of that plug, and then the plug starts to come out. So one of the questions I get first is, does it come all at once?
[00:05:48] Trish Ware, RN: No, not always. Sometimes it can come out in bits of pieces. It also can reseal itself for some of you who have had preterm labor or what have you, and the labor was stopped, your [00:06:00] plug is going to reestablish itself. However, a lot of people think it's gonna come out. Look just like a cork or something that.
[00:06:07] Trish Ware, RN: Explain that shape, which sometimes it does, but most of the time it comes out like a glob, like a baby jellyfish with streaks of brown and blood, and depending also how long it sat in there before it fell out. It also can come out in little bits and pieces, so you might see it as you wipe over a couple days.
[00:06:28] Trish Ware, RN: Now, if you're one of my members inside of my membership, shoot me a picture, girl. We'll look at it. The plug is letting you know so. Something down there is happening, and as your uterus gets thinner and relaxes, that plug comes out and that makes sense because the baby has to come out as well, eventually.
[00:06:49] Trish Ware, RN: Usually it's clear, maybe pinkish or a brownish color. Another sign of labor is nesting. Now, I told you this was like a mental. This [00:07:00] is more of a mental thing, and I'm gonna say mental because you can't control it. So if anybody on here who has experienced nesting, then y'all know that this is like an unexplainable, uncontrollable desire to organize, to clean.
[00:07:19] Trish Ware, RN: To get all the things ready and if your partner isn't on board, it can also lead to a lot of frustration and irritation because I need to get this done. Like baby's coming time is up. Let's do it. And I personally love. The nesting stage, you get so much done and you enjoy it. So it's not like you're like stressed out by doing it.
[00:07:43] Trish Ware, RN: You really wanna do it and you might clean your house. And I really think this goes back to that primal part of us where we actually had to physically prepare the place that our baby was coming home to. Now it looks like putting up wallpaper, getting a crib together, getting [00:08:00] the car seat in the car, and all of those preparation things.
[00:08:04] Trish Ware, RN: When labor is starting, Closer to labor, right? So we've talked about some things that can happen before labor, so you might also see an increase of Braxton Hicks could be a sign. But I also wanna caution you, because my girls tell me all the time, my patients have told me a lot. They think because they're not.
[00:08:24] Trish Ware, RN: Feeling a lot of bra, Braxton Hicks, but their best friend is feeling a ton of Braxton Hicks that they aren't happening. But I can tell you when I've put Mamas on monitors, when I'm doing like a non-stress test or N S T, I will put them on, sit down at my desk and be like, dang, she's having a lot of contractions.
[00:08:41] Trish Ware, RN: And when I go back and ask her, she's not feeling them at all. So they're definitely Braxton Hicks, but she doesn't know it's happening. So if you've been like a little disappointed that you're not having Braxton Hicks, I wanna tell you, you. More than likely having Braxton. So an increase in Braxton [00:09:00] Hicks.
[00:09:00] Trish Ware, RN: Sometimes some moms, when labor is imminent, might get loose stool or be nauseous, even vomiting. Those can be signs of labor. That's a little confusing right now with all the viruses and the stuff going around in winter. , but that is a sign for some women that labor is beginning, and I think it's just a natural process of cleaning our body out.
[00:09:21] Trish Ware, RN: Another thing is you might just have a gut feeling. Remember, we're learning to listen to our instincts, so another one we're gonna talk about that is a pretty definitive sign that you're gonna have the baby, but isn't necessarily a sign that labor starting right then is your water breaking? For some women, they're water breaks and it takes a while for them to go into labor.
[00:09:45] Trish Ware, RN: And I have some rules that I teach my girls on. If your water breaks and there's no sign of labor, what do you do? When do you go to the hospital and how do you handle it? So water breaking is a definitive sign that baby is coming. [00:10:00] But sometimes it's a little gray area as to when the contractions might get consistent.
[00:10:06] Trish Ware, RN: So the number one sign that labor is happening is dilation and effacement or cervical change like your cervix does. A few things in labor. I know that a lot of us are so focused on dilation that we forget. There's other key important. Now this is something that you're not gonna necessarily know is happening, and if you're one of my students or one of my members in my membership, then you know, I do not encourage you to have cervical exams, especially at 36, 37, 38 weeks, unless you're being induced for a really good medical reason.
[00:10:46] Trish Ware, RN: But out of curiosity, Don't do it unless it's you that's curious. And I would still wait until at least 39 weeks. So what is happening internally? Because what happens is a lot of my students that end up [00:11:00] having a cervical exam, they feel really discouraged because I had three different mamas I talked to today.
[00:11:07] Trish Ware, RN: If you know about my membership, if you're a student in our birth courses, and a member in our membership, you get something extra special called our labor bat signal and what that is inside of our membership, our student members are allowed at 37 weeks to make a group labor bat signal, a group DM with me and my team doula, and we just ha hold their hands, support them, help them navigate decisions and roadblocks and any warning signs.
[00:11:35] Trish Ware, RN: Did my water break. They send us pictures, we walked through the different things, and then we're there for them during labor and six weeks postpartum. So three times today I've had the same thing, and that is I'm 39 weeks. I'm 40 weeks, and I'm not dilated. I wanna tell you that it's not just about.
[00:11:57] Trish Ware, RN: there's a lot of things that have to occur, and [00:12:00] if they're occurring, your body is doing what it's supposed to do. Your body's gonna do it. Your body is incredible. Sometimes it needs a little nudge, but most of the time all it needs is patience. So one of the first things that's gonna begin to happen is that the consistency of your cervix is nice and tough, like the tip of your nose, like your.
[00:12:20] Trish Ware, RN: It starts to get soft and mushy, and that is like a great sign because that means it's getting ready to thin out and open up. So when it, when I say thin out and open up, you're gonna go from a nice, thick cervix like this. To a nice, thin, open cervix eventually. So part of the process, especially first, first time mom, that's really important is that thinning out.
[00:12:45] Trish Ware, RN: So that's way more important than your dilation number prior to labor starting. So your before labor starts, your cervix is like a satellite. And it's pointed backwards towards your bottom. And then as labor starts to [00:13:00] progress or it starts to happen, it's gonna move to a mid position and then an anterior position, like it's ready to come out for baby to come out.
[00:13:07] Trish Ware, RN: So that's really important too. So what happens a lot of times when you do a cervical exam during pregnancy, you don't know all of that, and so all you hear. Your cervix is closed and then you get discouraged, and our discouragement can affect our mental wellbeing and our mindset can affect our birth. If you guys follow me, or you're one of my students, you know that is 100% my mantra.
[00:13:33] Trish Ware, RN: Birth is 90%. Mental. So we don't wanna start out the journey by not trusting our body and thinking that it's not doing exactly what it's supposed to do. So we're getting soft. Your satellite cervix is pointing forward. And then the next really important thing is, Effacement, which is thinning out. So for a first time mom, that's gonna happen prior to labor starting.
[00:13:57] Trish Ware, RN: Typically you're gonna start to thin out. [00:14:00] Once you get to a certain thinness, you're gonna start to open and dilate for someone like me or for a second time mom, or more. Your cervix can do all of that at once. But the good thing that I want you guys, if there's anything else you guys leave with today, it's this.
[00:14:17] Trish Ware, RN: It doesn't take weeks for all of that to happen. It doesn't even take days. Sometimes it can. Hours and even minutes. So if you go to your prenatal appointment, your 39 weeks or your 40 weeks, or you're like, A couple of my students are 41 weeks right now, and you're, they say, oh, your cervix is still closed.
[00:14:37] Trish Ware, RN: I want you to be encouraged. That doesn't matter until labor starts. Once labor starts, of course it should be. Labor hasn't started. So once labor starts, it's gonna open up for that baby. Cuz none of us know one person who's been walking around pregnant for years, right? We all know the baby's gonna come [00:15:00] out.
[00:15:00] Trish Ware, RN: Now, sometimes, like I said, we need to help. Maybe a little nudge, but for the most part, the most important thing you can do when you're waiting for labor is to. Patience. Patience is key. Last night I taught a workshop. We do about two to eight workshops a month that are free to our members and free to our student members.
[00:15:22] Trish Ware, RN: And last night we talked all about self induction, how to get your body ready, how to get labor kicks started. What to do if you're being induced. What's the best plan to do at home prior to going in? Because just because you're d being induced doesn't mean that you don't try some things. And we have a plan for our girls, so you can try at our membership for $1 for seven days, and then it's 1997 a month, which includes all the workshops.
[00:15:47] Trish Ware, RN: Support all the way through postpartum. We do weekly happy hours on Zoom tonight we have our pregnancy Happy Hours. So if you join today, go straight to the events and the l and m Happy hour and click [00:16:00] on that Zoom link and come and hang out. You can face-to-face, ask me a questions. I just got an A Labor bat signal, someone's in labor.
[00:16:07] Trish Ware, RN: If you guys are interested in that, you can always go to labor nurse mama.com/me. If you join one of our birth classes, either calm Labor, the Vback Lab or the Belly Birth Masterclass, you get 30 days free in our membership to try it out. And we love it. We love our students. We give them so much nurturing.
[00:16:29] Trish Ware, RN: We've got a team doula, we've got a newborn specialist. We are looking at to bring a lactation consultant. We have a pelvic floor specialist. What else do we have? We have tons of mamas with lots of experience and so many resources. You guys, it's the number one place to be. So if you wanna join a birth class, calm labor is labor Nurse mama.com/calm.
[00:16:52] Trish Ware, RN: Or Vback lab, labor nurse mama.com/vback or labor nurse mama.com/belly [00:17:00] birth. If you wanna join the membership, labor nurse mama.com/membership, we would love to see you. If you're listening right now and you're like, oh my God, I need to pick her brain, join for a dollar you get. Seven days for a dollar, and tonight we're having a pregnancy happy hour where I can see you face to face and you can tell me your story.
[00:17:20] Trish Ware, RN: We cry together, we laugh together, we scream together, we get pissed together, and we plot together. We come up with plans together and we truly support our girls. So this isn't like anything else. You're actually gonna have access. I hope you got some valuable information. I hope there's one thing you're taking away today, and the main thing I want for you is to remember your body is incredible.
[00:17:44] Trish Ware, RN: Your body is powerful, and all you need to do is have patience in your body, speak some positive stuff over that amazing body. It has built a baby an. Human being is being built inside of your body. [00:18:00] And that's incredible. So tell it. Tell your body you're amazing. And remember, you are a birth queen and you've got this.