My first child is due in less than a week, and I'm not dilated at all yet. I've had some tightness across my belly and have heard that could be painless contractions or "silent labor." Since I've never done this before, I'm not really sure what to expect or how to know when I'm going into labor, especially if I don't end up having any pain. So, my question is: What other symptoms might indicate that the time is coming? Any advice would be more than welcome!

asked 12 Dec '09, 03:01

Artemis's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

I also had tightness across my belly - like my skin was going to bust open! The night before I went to hospital, I had a small case of diarrhea with some abdominal cramping which my OB told me was my body preparing for the birth by emptying my bowels.

Other signs could include:

  1. Your waters breaking. If this happens, get to the hospital immediately for an assessment. You may not go into labour straight away, but may need to be treated for infection prevention (my waters broke at 34 weeks and my doctor put me straight on a penicillin IV for this purpose. I never went into labour and my baby was delivered via c-section 3 days later) . Make sure you take note of the colour of the liquid - it should be clear or with a pink tinge with a hint of ammonia. If there is a hint of brown or green, your caregivers will need to know as it could be an indication of meconium aspiration
  2. Engagement/lightening - When your baby drops into position, pressure on your stomach and diaphragm drops, too. You will probably have less heartburn and shortness of breath and you will be able to fit more into your tummy when you eat!
  3. Loosing your "bloody show"/mucus plug - the small amount of thickened mucus that has sealed your cervical canal during the last nine months may dislodge if your cervix begins to dilate as you get close to labour. The plug may come out in a lump or as increased vaginal discharge over the course of several days. The mucus may be tinged with brown, pink, or red blood
  4. Involutary shivering - your body's way of relieving tension and nothing to worry about
  5. Your nesting instinct may set in and you may find yourself displaying seemingly irrational domestic behaviours

Of course, every pregnancy is different and you may have all these symptoms or none at all! Good luck - enjoy the ride, it's a magical and truly rewarding one!

The best tip I can give is to pack your bags in your car and install your baby car seat/capsule early - my waters broke the day after!


answered 12 Dec '09, 08:23

Lin's gravatar image

accept rate: 10%

The Mayo Clinic has a good article on signs you're going into labor. My contractions didn't hurt until the very end. However, even if they don't hurt, you'll probably have some sort of rhythmic tightening. I could feel what was happening best when I was relaxed and semi-reclined (though this isn't the best position to stay in for long periods). The Mayo Clinic offers this way to know if they are real contractions:

As your due date approaches, Braxton Hicks contractions may become stronger or even painful. Eventually, Braxton Hicks contractions will be replaced by the real thing. To tell the difference, ask yourself these questions:
  • Are the contractions regular? Time your contractions from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next. Look for a regular pattern of contractions that get progressively stronger and closer together. The contractions of false labor will remain irregular.
  • How long do they last? True contractions last more than 30 seconds at first and get progressively longer — up to 90 seconds. The contractions of false labor vary in length.
  • Can you stop the contractions? True contractions continue regardless of your activity level or position. In fact, they often grow stronger with increased activity, such as walking. With false labor, you may be able to stop the contractions by changing your activity or position, lying down or taking a walk.
  • link

    answered 12 Dec '09, 14:35

    Kiesa's gravatar image

    Kiesa ♦
    accept rate: 26%

    Contractions are when your uterus hardens, which may be what you're feeling. In my experience, non-labor contractions usually are not painful just uncomfortable or itchy.

    At this point you're probably seeing your OB every two weeks or so? They'll will likely give you updates on your dilation, but really that doesn't give you any direction on when the baby will be born. From my experience, some women will dilate a bit a month before, some never until labor begins. Personally, I dilated 1cm about a week or two before.

    Labor contractions are going to feel like period cramps along with the tightening across your belly. Depending on how your labor goes, they may be light at first and something that makes you perk up and go "oh, my." And then they will increase with intensity over time. There are two "rules" for when you head into the hospital.

    1. 411: when your contractions are 4 minutes apart, 1 minute in length, for 1 hour.

    2. When your water breaks. All timing contractions are off when your water breaks. Call your Labor & Delivery and let them know you are on your way in.

    If your water does break, then note TACO (time, amount, color, oder) and tell that to L&D when you call them.

    My labor experience was this - I was 1cm dilated for a week or two (I forget) before I went into labor. The day of I had a sudden urge to repack our hospital bags and make sure my Mom knew what to do when I did go into labor. That evening between 7pm and 8pm I had three contractions. I didn't have Braxton-Hicks contractions during my pregnancy so there wasn't any question what these were. Very mild, just a tightening in my uterus and something that felt like a mild period cramp.

    Between 8pm and 9pm I have some more contractions and they started to pick up in pace. I called a friend of mine to confirm what I was feeling was labor contractions and then called L&D. The nurse was very nice and said "sounds like we'll be seeing you soon!" That make my heart jump for sure! At 9:30pm I had a contraction that I couldn't talk through and told my husband "we're going in!". From there my labor progressed quickly and my daughter was born at 3:45am.

    If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call L&D. You should have a phone number for them by now. They will answer any questions you have and let you know if you need to come in or not.

    Good Luck, Mama! Don't worry - you'll know :)


    answered 13 Dec '09, 14:35

    Christina%20Carey's gravatar image

    Christina Carey
    accept rate: 0%

    edited 16 Dec '09, 14:25

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    Tammy ♦♦

    Hi Christna and welcome to moms4mom.com. We are trying to differentiate ourselves from other parenting forums by adhering to to the back it up principal: http://moms4.mom.com/back-it-up. Most of your post is personal experience which is great. I added a reference to back up some of the "facts" stated within your answer. We like people to include how they know information, such as where they read it, prenatal class, personal experience etc...

    (16 Dec '09, 14:27) Tammy ♦♦
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    Asked: 12 Dec '09, 03:01

    Seen: 138,469 times

    Last updated: 16 Dec '09, 14:25