How to Recognize Early Labor Symptoms

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.

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Labor & Delivery: Preterm Labor

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Leaking or Discharge

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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.

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Contractions

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.

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Cramps

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Cramps

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

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Pelvic Pressure

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Pelvic Pressure

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

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Labor & Delivery: Signs of Real vs. False Labor

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Backache

Heather Weston

Backache

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

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Next Steps: Lie Down & Relax

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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.

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Drink Water

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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.

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Rest & Wait

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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.

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Lay Low

Labor & Delivery: Labor & Delivery 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!

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