Early Signs of Labor in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

If you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, you may find yourself wondering if every twinge and emotion is a sign that your baby is coming any moment. Some signs of labor, like contractions and water breaking, typically mean that the birth of your baby is imminent and you should call your midwife or doctor right away. Other signs, like nesting, are more subtle and usually mean that your baby will be arriving shortly, but not right this minute. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently, so you may not experience all the early signs of labor in the exact manner outlined below.

Pregnant woman

Early Signs of Labor

You Start Nesting
Nesting is the term used to describe that feeling you get where you suddenly need to have everything in perfect order, and it is one of the first early signs of labor.  While you may have been too tired to clean and organize throughout the rest of your pregnancy, right near the end it becomes almost a compulsion. You’re more energetic and rearing to knock off every item on your pre-baby to-do list. The instinct may be a holdover from ancient times, when women needed to ensure their “nursery” was safe from predators, or maybe it’s a psychological impulse because you know they more you get done now, the more you can enjoy your newborn later. Enjoy this sudden burst of energy and use it to conquer that to-do list, but don’t over-do it. Remember to take plenty of time to relax, and delegate the heavy moving to someone else, even if you think no one could possibly put the crib exactly where it’s supposed to go except you.

Your Baby “Drops”-

Shortly before giving birth, your baby will start getting into the ideal birthing position by dropping further down towards the birth canal. Usually, this means that you finally start feeling as if you can breathe a little better because your bundle of joy is no longer crammed up against your lungs.  Unfortunately, it also means your baby is even closer to your bladder than before, so expect more frequent trips to the restroom. Around this time, your doctor will start to pay close attention to whether the baby’s head is facing in the right direction, which is down closer to the birth canal. If your baby is in the wrong position too close to the time of birth, your doctor may be able to manually move him into the right position to prevent a breech birth.

Dilation

This is one of the signs of labor that means your baby is really almost here. Normally, your cervix, the opening to your uterus, is very tiny and closed. It remains that way throughout most of your pregnancy, until closer to the end. At this time, your cervix will start to dilate, or relax, in preparation for delivery. Dilation can begin well before your due-date.  Typically, you’ll dilate one to two centimeters a few weeks before the big day and stay that way until closer to delivery. In the final few days, it will dilate to four to seven centimeters wide, and open up the last seven to 10 centimeters right before your baby is born.

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About Nicole Etolen

Nicole Etolen is the Editor-In-Chief of OurFamilyWorld and its sister site, MyKidsGuide. She is also a blogger and former Certified Nurses Aide. She's been writing most of her life and realized that she could combine her writing talents with her medical knowledge to help others in a new way. Nicole is also the owner of PrettyOpinionated.com. When she's not writing 12 hours a day, she enjoys reading and spending time with her very cool son.

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