How to Recognize Early Labor Symptoms

Labor & Delivery: Labor & Delivery Timeline
Worried about early labor? While it can can sometimes be stopped with a combo of meds and bed rest, it's important to be on the lookout for these warning signs so you can call your doctor ASAP if you think there's a problem.

Early labor happens anytime before 37 weeks. Learn about the signs and different ways your doctor might try to slow down the labor.

Image Source/Veer
Image Source/Veer

Leaking or Discharge

Blood or fluid leaking from your vagina, or a change in your discharge (if it looks brownish, it could be your mucous plug, which protects your cervix during pregnancy). Call your doctor right away if you have this symptom; your water may have broken.

Contractions

With our without pain, you'll feel like your stomach is making a firm fist. Call your doctor if your contractions strike every 10 minutes or more frequently. Braxton Hicks contractions are common now, too, but they come and go more randomly.

Image Source/ Veer
Image Source/ Veer

Cramps

You may have period-like cramps, with or without -- yuck -- diarrhea.

PhotoAlto/ Matton
PhotoAlto/ Matton

Pelvic Pressure

You'll experience the sensation of your baby shifting downward in your stomach.

It can be hard to know when those contractions are the real thing. Here are some tips to help you figure out whether you are actually in labor or whether you're experiencing false labor symptoms.

Heather Weston
Heather Weston

Backache

You also may experience a low, dull, backache. Make sure to call your doctor if this occurs.

PhotoAlto/ Matton
PhotoAlto/ Matton

Next Steps: Lie Down & Relax

If you're experiencing any of the early labor symptoms outlined here, find a quiet place where you can lie down, relax, catch your breath, and prepare for next steps.

istock
istock

Drink Water

While you're resting, drink a couple of glasses of water or juice. Dehydration often causes cramping and water can ease your symptoms.

BananaStock/ Jupiter
BananaStock/ Jupiter

Rest & Wait

Have your partner or a friend sit with you for an hour or so to help you track your early labor symptoms. If your pain gets worse or doesn't dissipate after an hour, call your doctor or head for the hospital.

If you are a first time mom, you are probably wondering what to expect on delivery day. Get an understanding of what the typical progression is like with this timeline.

Lay Low

If symptoms do go away, take it easy for the rest of the day, but be sure to speak with your doctor. Draw yourself to a warm tub, ring your favorite takeout joint for dinner, and put your feet up!

Copyright &copy 2010 Meredith Corporation.

Share the gallery


All Topics in Signs of Labor


Parents may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.