These are some weird signs that labor is near, and because they’re not so obvious you can easily miss them. I’m going to share those with you.
These totally weird clues that labor is coming soon are easy to miss during the third trimester of pregnancy. You’re so exhausted and sometimes achy that these unusual signs can sneak up on you.
If this is your first pregnancy and you’re jumping at every little twinge and flutter, staring at your baby hospital bag, just know you are totally normal.
You’re not alone. We’ve all been there.
Even experienced moms go through the “wondering” at times, especially since every birth is different.
Before we get started, pin this for later!
How Can I Spot Signs that Labor Is Near?
I want to be clear that this post is not about the obvious signs of labor:
- Possible loss of mucus plug
- Water breaking
This post is about a few signs that happen before you go into labor… and they’re kind of weird.
You will probably experience at least one of these weird signs that labor is near, if you haven’t already. Once they start happening, get ready! Labor might be sooner than you think!
Identifying Actual Labor
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How I Discovered these Unusual Signs that Labor is Near
How did I come up with this list? Well, after having both my sons, I noticed there were some common things that happened at the end of my third trimester of pregnancy with each one.
I reached out to other experienced moms and noticed these “weird” signs labor is near are actually more common than we realize, and they tend to happen right before real labor starts.
This isn’t a medical journal and I’m no doctor, so please remember that I’m only sharing some signs that I’ve learned from my own experiences and that you should always ask your doctor about any questions.
I feel like I can confidently share these weird signs because I did talk to my own doctor about them and my symptoms were attributed to “end of the third trimester” and “preparation for labor.”
The most important thing is that I experienced all of these things with both my pregnancies hours before I went into labor.
5 Weird Signs that Labor is Near
Weird Sign #1: Draining Exhaustion Before Actual Labor
I noticed that at the end of my pregnancy I felt tired–a new kind of tired that made me antsy and irritable.
The third trimester can be exhausting by default, but a few days before Kai was born, I was utterly exhausted.
I just got to this place where I felt like, “I’m done.”
Sleeping was a challenge which didn’t help matters (which happens during the third trimester). I was worn out.
You’ll notice it, too, where you’ll be tired during your third trimester, and then, at the end, you’ll hit “the wall.”
You’ll discover a new level of tired that you haven’t experienced. Just think of it as your body being super busy inside, preparing to go into labor any day.
Pro Tip: Make sure you’re supporting your back properly during pregnancy! Use a pregnancy pillow to improve the quality of your sleep and align your hips.
Weird Sign #2: Restless and Jittery
It’s not just nesting–it’s something that comes over you right before actual labor. You’ll find yourself scurrying around the house, making last minute trips to the store, doing all sorts of tasks.
Pay close attention when you find yourself feeling an almost frantic urge to “get things done.”
In my (unlicensed) opinion, it’s an instinctive reaction to your body ramping up as it’s about to go into labor. Soon.
I experienced this with both my pregnancies. I was beyond tired, but I couldn’t just sit.
My mind was reeling with a sense of urgency. I felt I needed to “finish this,” or “make sure that’s done,” and I was all over the place.
The day I went into labor with my first son, I was walking through the store doing some last minute shopping.
My baby wasn’t technically due for another week-and-a-half, but instinctively I knew if there was something I wanted to do, I’d better do it now.
You may not even notice when this takes place, but others around you probably will.
They’ll likely comment about it, cluing you in that your little frenzy isn’t exactly your norm. When that happens, take note.
Weird Sign #3: A Different “Look”
This is another super weird sign that labor is near.
If you’re at the end of your pregnancy and you notice people are remarking that you seem or look different, get ready.
You might be in your nesting craze and not even realize how close you are to labor.
Pay attention, friend! It’s probably very soon!
Right before my labor started, I got an extra onslaught of the “you look exhausted” comments.
Yeah, I didn’t exactly appreciate that, but after so many of them, I started to wonder. Did I really look that much different than before?
Turns out Kai was born within a matter of hours after all those comments. So, yeah, I know I must have looked very different.
Something about me had changed, had “graduated,” so to speak. I was entering the next phase of my pregnancy. I was at the end.
It was annoying, but it was also an indicator, as I later realized, that labor was right around the corner.
Weird Sign #4: Abdominal Tightening
This one is the biggie for first-time mommies.
The famous question: “Is this Braxton Hicks or actual labor?”
There’s more to it. Braxton Hicks are essentially false labor. They carry on and act like real contractions but eventually fade away.
You can experience “real” contractions, too. Your belly will get super tight and you can even see it through your clothes! Braxton Hicks can do this, but real contractions feel deeper and get really tight.
Look out! That’s a sign!
At the end of my third trimester, I felt my tummy get tight every now and then.
I’d read a little on the differences between Braxton Hicks and actual labor, but it was my first pregnancy so I couldn’t tell the difference by experience.
To this day, I still don’t know when the Braxton Hicks stopped and the occasional, real contractions started.
All I know is that when the day came, the tightening started and it didn’t go away. It grew more intense, and I noticed a rhythmic pattern.
With my second son, I recognized real contractions at the end and could tell they weren’t Braxton Hicks. They’d come and go, but my belly got really tight.
I went into labor a few days later.
Pay Attention If You Can’t Walk During Some Tightening
I learned this firsthand with my oldest son.
I was getting out of the car when I had one contraction that made me pause and wait until it eased before walking the rest of the way into the house.
That was a very real contraction but I didn’t have any more as I got ready for bed, so I went to sleep. I was awakened by my water breaking at 3:00 am.
Honestly, as far as contractions go, if it’s at all possible, just don’t think too hard about it.
I know that sounds crazy, but if it’s the real thing, it will keep progressing and you’ll eventually know.
Your body will do its thing when the time comes.
The other tricky thing is that you can have an actual contraction here and there without it progressing any further.
If you’re on pins and needles, jumping every time you have a contraction or Braxton Hicks, you’ll be a hot mess when real labor arrives.
Just relax and be ready for anything.
If you’re still at the place where you can’t interpret if it’s Braxton Hicks or actual labor, then even if it is actual labor, you’re still in the very early stages.
Relaxing and taking it easy is the best thing you can do at that point, regardless.
Weird Sign #5: Increased Appetite
Not everyone may experience this exactly the same way, but hours before my water broke, we were coming home from church and I was ravenous.
It felt like I hadn’t eaten in a week.
We stopped to grab something to eat and I downed enough food to feed a small army.
Up to that point, my appetite was touch and go. I was hot and tired most days and food just wasn’t all that appealing.
But as we headed home from church, I was suddenly so hungry I had to eat right away.
Before we got home I had some contractions. They weren’t painful but it was less that 12 hours later that I was holding my newborn son.
That noticeable appetite increase was obviously an indicator that my body was revving up for labor.
Signs You’re Actually in Labor
When the real thing arrives, there are some key signs.
The first thing you’ll probably notice are contractions.
Real ones don’t go away, so the best thing you can do is relax and wait.
If you feel some tightening, keep track of the time until the next one comes. If it’s the real deal they won’t go away, and will progress.
What will your bump be doing and how does it help in identifying actual labor?
You’ll feel tightening through your tummy and your bump will become extremely firm.
You’ll feel it on the inside, but you’ll also be able to notice it from the outside, too.
Rub your hand over your belly during that tightening and you’ll feel how firm it is.
This can happen before actual labor begins as well, so the best thing to do is to wait and watch for changes.
I’ve heard and read that Braxton Hicks are mainly felt in your tummy, while actual contractions involve more of your body, even around to your back.
My honest opinion?
I couldn’t really tell that much of a difference between the two with my first pregnancy.
What I can say is that when my actual labor started, the contractions became steady and rhythmic.
It honestly will do you no good to get jumpy each time you feel a contraction. If you can, focus on relaxing and waiting. You body will clearly let you know when it’s really time.
At 3:00 am I awakened with the instinctive sense that something was up. I wasn’t having a contraction, and I wasn’t sick.
I just started awake–like wide awake and alert, which isn’t like me.
And then I felt it.
The best way to describe the sensation is like a water balloon gently breaking.
I can’t guarantee it will be exactly this way for you, but for me, I actually was aware of a little, tiny pop. It wasn’t a burst or an explosion. Think of popping a full water balloon gently with a tack.
I hurried to the restroom, because when your water breaks it releases pretty quickly.
Note: Your water may not break in one, single famous gush. I felt it a few times, accompanied by the fluid making an exit.
For me this was a unique, distinctive experience. I have heard about women who didn’t recognize when their water broke. That was not the case for me.
There was no questioning what it was when it happened.
Tip: Don’t judge your labor by your water breaking. A lot of moms don’t ever experience their water breaking at home. It’s very common for your water to break right before you deliver.
Contractions Pick Up Speed
One of the easiest things to do is to over-analyze every twinge and breath as you await baby’s arrival.
But when the real thing happens, it will just happen.
When the real thing happens, your labor will progress.
Once my water broke, I noticed that my labor graduated.
I was now experiencing solid, easily identifiable contractions. They were intense enough that I had to stop walking when they occurred and breathe through them.
Because I was home, calm and relaxed and comfortable with the setting, this part of my labor wasn’t scary.
I can’t stress it enough–just relax. Wait. If you can’t figure out what’s going on, give it some time.
Your body will tell you. Trust your body and your instincts. Stay tuned in and relaxed. The calmer you are, the better you’ll enter your labor.
Want to boost your confidence and get ready for childbirth without the political mumbo jumbo and TMI? Check out Simply Mama Fearless (A One Day Read). You’ll be glad you did!
Extra Tips for During Labor:
- Stay hydrated. Your body will function more smoothly if you have ample fluids and you’ll feel better, too. If you’re dehydrated, the hospital will put you on an IV with fluids. Trust me–contractions feel worse when you’re dehydrated!
- If you feel hungry, eat something during early labor. Listen to your body. Give it what it wants. When you’re in the middle of active labor and transition, the last thing on your mind will be food. Eat while it’s still appealing.
- Use your birthing ball. Exercises on your birthing ball will help you relax, but it will also help position your pelvis for birth
- Try and stay inclined. Let gravity work for you. If you absolutely feel like you need to lie flat, follow what feels best. But if you can, stay inclined to allow gravity to work for you in getting both you and baby ready.
Just remember, when the time comes, you are more than capable. You are incredible, and your body is incredible! You have so got this, mama–you have so got this!