Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Also referred to as the baby "dropping," lightening occurs when the baby drops or settles lower into
Often you will suddenly find you are less short of breath because your lungs have more room to expand.
Pressure will increase in your pelvis though, and you may need to urinate more often. You may feel a sensation of heaviness in the pelvic area.
Lightening usually occurs several weeks prior to your first delivery. With following births, it may happen just hours before delivery.
As the cervix thins and starts to dilate (open) in preparation for delivery, small capillaries burst and cause a pink or brown
Dilation of the cervix is also referred to as "ripening" of the cervix.
The mucous plug, which has sealed the cervix throughout the pregnancy, dislodges. It will look like pink or blood-tinged stringy mucus.
Bloody show can occur anywhere from hours to several weeks before delivery.
If the discharge is bright red, or more than an ounce is present, a problem with the placenta may have occurred, and you should contact your health care provider immediately.
Some women notice a burst of energy a few days prior to going into labor.
This is nature's way of helping ensure everything is ready when the new baby arrives.
Nausea and diarrhea
Hormonal changes early in labor can cause an upset stomach, cramps, and
Increased Braxton Hicks contractions
These practice contractions, which have been present during the last several months of pregnancy, may become more frequent, intense, and even painful.
The sensation has been described by some women as a menstrual-type
Rupture of the membranes (water breaks)
Rupture of the membranes involves the breakage of the amniotic sac that surrounds the baby and leakage of the amniotic fluid through the vaginal opening. The fluid may come out in a sudden rush or in a slow trickle. Although most women are having contraction before their water breaks, in some cases it can happen before labor contractions have begun. In this case it is a sign that labor is about to begin. You should notify your health care
professional when your water breaks or if you suspect that there has been leakage of amniotic fluid.