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Pregnancy Myths: Not all waters break

Rachel O'Reilly

Kimberly Gordon

Kimberly Gordon

There are many signs you can be aware of to give some inclination that early labor/labor could be starting. One very obvious sign is the infamous “water break.” Does that mean it’s the only sign you should look out for when your due date comes, (and sometimes goes)? No.

Does that mean if you are experiencing very strong signs of labor and your water hasn’t broken then you’re having “false labor?” No.

There’s the possibility to birth a baby in their fully intact amniotic sac. Its called born en caul, an incredibly rare and beautiful occurrence.

Other signs of the onset of labor:

  • Contractions, (also known as surges) - You won’t question a contraction once you finally have one. Many women experience Braxton Hicks towards the end of their pregnancy. These are great toning surges that your uterus will do without being painful, but they aren’t necessarily signs of labor. Early labor contractions can feel like gastrointestinal upset, heavy menstrual cramps or lower abdominal pressure. Pain may be just in the lower abdomen or in the lower back and abdomen. It may also radiate down the legs, particularly in the upper thighs. It’s difficult to prepare a woman, or give them an exact explanation, as to what to expect for contractions. Rest assured that once a true contraction is experience, a mother will no longer ask if it was one or not.

  • Loss of mucus plug - At the very beginning of pregnancy, mucus generated during ovulation is accumulated in the uterine cervix. As the mucus thickens it seals the cervix tightly, blocking the way for any infection from the vagina to the cervix and thereby protecting the fetus. When your cervix begins to dilate and thin out, it is possible you will lose your mucus plug; a clear sign that your body is getting ready for labor.

  • Cramping - You may feel cramping in your uterus towards the end of pregnancy which is a good sign that your body is getting ready to birth your baby.

  • Lower Back Pain - Lower back aches and pains are often felt in early labor.

  • Loose stool - Your body may create more room for your baby to enter through the birth canal.

  • Bloody show (stretching of the cervix) - You will often see this when you are in more active labor, but it is a very good sign that your cervix is stretching and thinning, therefore showing light blood within the mucus discharge.

  • Pressure in lower abdomen.

  • Membrane rupture (also known as water breaks) - When your “water breaks” that is a sure sign labor will be coming. It may not activate contractions and labor immediately, but you should let your primary care giver know. Usually they would like to see labor start on its own within 12 - 48 hours (dependent on your healthcare provider).

All of these are really good signs that things are happening! Does it mean baby will be born tomorrow or even that evening? No. Therefore, if these signs are manageable, go on with your day or evening as best as you can. Draw yourself a bath or take a warm shower. Go on a walk around the neighborhood. Lay in bed with support from all your pillows and possibly a heating pad for the achy places in your body. Speak to your baby and let them know you’re ready for them, and for the journey that you both will soon undertake. Find pleasure, comfort and joy in each sign that your body sends you, because it is what you’ve been waiting so patiently for these past nine months.

What are the signs you remember the most when experiencing the onset of Labor?