Just when you think you can't possibly get any bigger and you'll never get off the couch without a crane, you may experience the following symptoms that let you know the time is near. Note that these symptoms don't occur in any particular order, and several may occur within the same day or a few days of each other.
- An increase in vaginal discharge, possibly brownish or pinkish in color.
- "Engagement," or the sensation of the baby dropping lower into your pelvic cavity.
- Braxton Hicks contractions or "practice" contractions that feel like a tightening or hardening of the uterus with possible mild cramps.
- Slight weight loss.
- Dull pain low in your back that comes and goes.
- Loose and frequent bowel movements with cramping.
- Sensation of building pressure or cramping in your pelvic/rectal area.
- A feeling of restlessness/increased energy, or marked sense of fatigue.
- Softening, thinning, or dilation of cervix (as shown by doctor's internal exam).
Note that Braxton Hicks contractions are different from the contractions you'll feel in labor:
- They're irregular and will subside after a time.
- They won't increase in strength or frequency.
- They'll subside if you move around.
- You'll feel pain in your lower abdomen, not your lower back.
- Any lower back pain you do feel is not persistent.
This is often called "false labor." Although the real work of labor hasn't begun, you can rest assured that your baby is getting ready to make his or her grand entrance!
Sources: University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Jane Forester, MD
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