Signs of Labor: In My Experience

Updated on April 20, 2016
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I have always felt that personal experiences are very useful, especially in situations where there really are no set signs. Medical professionals of all kinds have done what they can to note what set of symptoms most commonly occur when a women's body signals it's time for labor to begin, though they don't always make sense or aren't descriptive enough to easy a woman's mind in this crazy time.

So I would like to offer my first hand experiences to those who are looking. I can't guarantee that it will be any more calming then other lists of signs and symptoms, but it's my hope that I might be able to offer more detail then most lists I have read. It won't prepare you completely, as nothing but your own experience really can, though it's here for you non the less.

Remember that even with my experiences out in the open, that every woman's experience is different. For some it's only slightly different, while for others it's wildly different. Even with my own experiences, I can tell you that every birth is different, even in the same woman. It is going to be the experience with my second son that will help the most with this one, as with my first son, I hadn't noticed even the slightest warning of approaching labor. At 38 weeks, my water broke and that was it. With my second son, it was a whole new experience and definitely more pronounced.

Hot Flashes

For about two weeks before labor began, my body started to do the strangest thing. I would get so hot that it felt as though someone had lit a fire around me that just wouldn't quit. I could lay in the coldest room with nothing on and still be sweating buckets.

The worst of it came anytime I laid down and especially if I was laying on my back. This was especially difficult given how tired I was at the time, and was hard to put up with when my doctor simply kept telling me that it was normal and no specific indication of anything other than hormones surging through my body.

Fatigue Then Energy

I become more and more exhausted as those two weeks went on, but strangely, my body didn't seem to want to sleep as much as I felt I needed to. I would go through periods of sleeping for 4 to 6 hours and then getting up and feeling the need to work or do chores around the house. This wasn't easy though, as my body pretty much rejected any form of work that included standing up, yet it persisted that things needed to be done. I could only do so much before needing to rest again, but I went with it, knowing that fighting it wasn't going to help either.

I started to feel completely drained, yet unable to sleep. It was the worst form of insomnia, which is a common sign of impending labor.

Pelvic Pressure

Everything in my pelvic region started to hurt worse then it had before. Muscles, bones, tissues. This pregnancy didn't make me a stranger to pelvic pain, as I'd been achy down there for a while, but something was very different about it this time. It hurt all over and wasn't helped when the baby would bounce up and down on my cervix. It started to feel as though I had been bruised all over down there, and no change in position would take it away. Though the pain wasn't unbearable though, which made me wonder if it was just normal pains or something more. It hurt more than a nuisance, but it was less than crippling. It reserved me to avoid walking as much as possible.

Empty Bowels

Under normal circumstances this would be TMI, but when you're pregnant, thinking of certain subjects as gross kind of go out the window. As it were, a few days before full on active labor came, I could tell my body was preparing. It would take no more than an hour before anything I ate came right back out. I almost felt like a human processing plant. Food went in and came out at an amazing speed, as though my body was determined to make sure there was nothing left in the pipes before baby came.

After some time, I started to lose much of my appetite. Partially from being tired of spending twice as much time in the bathroom, and partially because my body was signalling it was time to stop putting thing in. After that, it was all gas, which was almost reassuring in a strange way.


When the contractions started, I admit I was a bit excited. Though part of me was fighting this excitement, because braxton hicks contractions are so common in the third trimester, that I wasn't sure if that was the cause of the contractions.

Another reason I had such a hard internal battle, was because the contractions didn't hurt all that bad. My uterus would tighten, which I could feel on the outside of my stomach where there wasn't too much "padding", and I could also feel from the muscles around my uterus. Though they squeezed, it still didn't hurt to bad. I would equate it to having a bad stomach ache that came and went. Though just about every ten or fifteen minutes I would have a contraction that took the breath from me. Even without the pain, I found myself breathing deeply with the contractions until they passed.

When the contractions came to be about 10 minutes apart, though not completely regular, I decided it was time to go see the doctor, to which they confirmed it was active labor.

Menstrual Cramping

When you're pregnant, menstrual like cramping can either be stretching muscles in your lower pelvis, or they can be a sign that your cervix is dilating. In my case, the fact that the menstrual cramping coincided with my contractions, was definitely a sign that labor was continuing to develop.


Nothing beats a woman's intuition when it comes to looking for signs of impending or growing labor. No matter what signs or symptoms you get along with it, your mothers intuition will tell you when it's time. Your fight or flight instinct will kick in, which can be confusing when you try to pair it with logic. One part of you might feel you need to find a cool dark place to hole up in, while the rest of you may want to rush to the hospital. This is usually when the nesting instinct kicks in, making you want to both sleep and to get things ready for baby.

Either way, trust your intuition. When it really is time, you will know.


To shorten things up, it has been my experience that the signs of labor are:

*Hot Flashes

*Extreme Fatigue


*Constant Bowel Emptying


*Menstrual Cramping


Alternatively, you might also have no signs and just lose your water before any of this starts, as happened with my first son. You could also have various other signs and symptoms, which is why it's so important to pay attention to your intuition.


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    • profile image

      Melanie Berends 4 months ago

      okay , so im not going crazy i have pretty much everything . Except insomia

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      Bri 4 months ago

      This is awesome.. thanks

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      Sam 11 months ago

      I have everything but cramps idk if im going into labor or not but I feel something different not normal.

    • BizGenGirl profile image

      Bema Self 16 months ago from Seattle

      Wow! Thank you so much for such a heartfelt comment Samantha! And no worries on the extra info. I love it! Reminds me of just how I felt right before I wrote this hub! lol

      Seeing as it's been four months, I hope you'll pop back in and give us an update on how you're doing now

    • profile image

      Samantha 20 months ago

      I just wanted to say that this is the best article I have read on describing labor and prelabor symptoms. Everything you read online is all pretty much the same except your experience is so real and so detailed. Thank you so much for sharing your story because it's like you are me from the future! This is exactly how I've been feeling, and I'm already 4 days past my due date so I'm becoming pretty miserable and impatient lol but I am having every single symptom you have mentioned except contractions, just braxton Hicks and pains and so so sore down there, which I'm so happy you said that because I felt like I was the only one to feel this and that something might be wrong... it literally feels like you worked out for hours but just down there lol plus it's 5:30 am right now because of course I have the whole exhaustedness going on but my body will only let me sleep a few hours and then I wake up pouring sweat (in a freezing basement) and either my mind just keeps running and I can't sleep or I hop up and repack the bags and clean the whole room and scrub out the fridge (yesterday haha) I'm so tired but at the same time my body isn't... Uggh!! Sorry just really happy someone had the same symptoms I am now , and wanted to say thankyou, sorry about all the extra info lol

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      brittany 4 years ago

      I filling tremendouse pressure down there babys moving around there like crazy can't sleep sick to stomace fill like i got a cold all this in past three dsys .

    • BizGenGirl profile image

      Bema Self 5 years ago from Seattle

      I totally feel ya Sabrina - if you're not there already, you'll be done soon and have a beautiful new bundle in your arms to exhaust ya even more! ;)

      I hope you'll come back and let us know how things went! L=

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      Sabrina 5 years ago

      It's so relieving to see someone with the same symptoms. I am waiting to go into labor at any minute. I am 38.5 weeks and am so ready to have this baby. It's hard to be in pain every day and be so tired but be able to really sleep. You want to get things done but it's like being in quick sand. Your mind is saying one thing but your body is saying something completely different.

    • BizGenGirl profile image

      Bema Self 5 years ago from Seattle

      Hmm... I suspect from your comment that you've already spoken with your OB, which is the best place to start. Usually they'll put ya on the monitors and see how far along you are. If they give you the all clear to head home, then do your best to relax, distract yourself and find other things to do. Now, everyone told me that you will not be able to miss the pain that comes when the baby is really on her way, though for me, it didn't hurt that bad. Though it did make me catch my breath involuntarily, as if my body just needed more oxygen with the contractions. So look out for one or both of those signs (painful contractions that are close together or contractions that take your breath away). Until then, just try not to worry to much!

      That's always the hardest part. But you can come and chat with me and other moms here on hubpages as much as you want. I'm sure there are plenty of answers for the questions that are racing around in your mind right now Kristin =)

      How old are your other daughters?

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      kristin 5 years ago

      i'am currently 38 weeks and 4 days pregnant with my 4th little girl and i have never experienced natural labor,i have always been induced and with this baby,its all natural but for the past 2 days now i have been having menstraul cramps that are light and then seem to get more intense and then lighten up,with an awfull awful stomach ache feeling like gas or cramping something that i feel when iam going to start my monthly with the urge to poop but nothing comes ut and iam havin a large amount of discharge with a stabbing/burning pain in the right lower part of my pelvis,idk what to do...i have never experienced labor on my own..

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      RippedMomma 6 years ago

      The experience with my first daughter was definitely that of non symptomatic. I hadn't had any sort of cramping, braxton hicks, nothing... I ended up at 42 weeks being induced and that was a very short process. This time however, I have gone into labor once and I am officially concerned that it could be the real deal now. Every symptom you have just described fits me. I go to the gym daily to attempt to regain focus. After two weeks of bedrest, I was told I had to take it easy at the gym so I dropped a mile. Started pregnancy at 7 a day, down to 5 and was doing 4 until today. I started having contractions, had to take the medication to stop them but most of all I have that pain all over downstairs. Like it all just hurts. Every bit of it. I don't want to get on the elliptical or bicycle, let alone go down the hall to the bathroom where, well... The fatigue and lack of sleep are getting worse, today is the 3rd day where after about 3-4 hours of sleep last night, I lie down for a nap and I doze, not really sleep but dozed for 25 minutes before my eyes won't stay closed. Second night in a row my dinner sits next to me getting colder. This could all be very interesting. It's a good thing I am packed and ready to roll out of here with a quickness, I have been feeling like she was coming early for sometime!!

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      Marissa 6 years ago from United States

      You're right: when it's time to give birth, a woman needs to trust her intuition. I knew my daughter was going to be born early due to unusual signs like the menstrual cramping and also things happening that would have normally happened with my menstrual cycle, like acne breakouts, etc. It was so different than my son's birth, where everything happened according to the book. I knew with her, something was not right, even though I wasn't contracting regularly or having other normal symptoms. She came three weeks early as a healthy baby... Trust your intuition! :)