While there is no certain set of events for all women, there are some common signs that tell you that labor is about to start. Not everyone will experience them, but if you do there’s a good chance that you and your baby are about to meet for the first time.
“The night before I went into labor I got this huge surge of energy and went on a massive cleaning spree. Less than 24 hours later I met my Lola for the first time.” Sandra, Mom of Lola, 8 months
Lightening is when your baby drops lower and settles into your pelvis. It can occur a few weeks or even a few hours before labor. It’s called "lightening" because the baby will not be pressing against your diaphragm and you may be able to breathe more easily.
You may notice a pinkish or blood-streaked discharge. This is from the mucus plug that has sealed the cervix during pregnancy. It can occur up to two weeks before labor starts.
Rupture of Membranes (Water Breaking)
At some point before labor, the sac of fluid surrounding your baby will rupture or "break." Despite what you see in the movies, most women don’t experience a huge gush of water. It may feel like a pop, or more like a trickle of water. Either way, if you suspect your water has broken, notify your doctor or midwife right away.
Early contractions may feel like menstrual cramps that come every 20 to 30 minutes. They gradually become more frequent. When they occur every three to five minutes, you’ll be in active labor. To time your contractions, write down the exact time each one begins (interval) and how long each lasts (duration).