Photo by Rachael Nicole
It doesn’t take long for a woman who finds out she is pregnant to begin thinking about the birth of her baby. Her feelings of excitement are usually mixed with anxiety about the actual arrival of her child. Some moms will be gracious and tell them the sugar-coated version of their birth story. Others will tell them all the gory details. By far, the birth stories that made me most nervous while I was pregnant were the ones that ended with babies being born on the side of the road because the mothers didn’t leave for the hospital in time. Apparently, they didn’t know they were in labor until it was a little too late in the game, and their babies came before they reached the hospital, or just as they arrived! There is a misconception about labor that many moms are privy to – that labor and delivery begins with strong contractions in your belly. There are some unusual signs of impending labor.
Here are some of the less-known signs that labor is near:
Diarrhea and nausea/vomiting – A lot of the time, when labor is imminent, diarrhea and vomiting is the body’s way of cleaning itself out to prepare for delivery. Some people believe that this happens to prevent these unfortunate symptoms to occur during active labor and the actual delivery of the baby.
Big appetite – This sign of labor can easily be confused for normal pregnancy symptoms! Let’s face it, growing a baby makes you hungry, especially when the nausea subsides at the end of the first trimester. When I was pregnant, I was shocked at how hungry I was all the time. Even after I had just eaten a meal, I would keep snacking. It would actually become an annoyance at times, because I would use up all my options and get frustrated that there was nothing left in the house to eat! Some women experience a big appetite days or hours before labor. Some researchers say that it’s the body’s way of fueling up for the long road ahead. After all, it’s called labor for a reason. It takes a lot of energy and perseverance!
Swollen lips – Some women report that their lips felt and looked swollen days before labor actually started.
Surge of energy (nesting) or feeling completely exhausted – There are two sides to this one. Some women report that weeks, days or hours before real contractions began, they felt a huge surge of energy. They found themselves reorganizing not only their coming baby’s clothes, but cleaning out their own closets, drawers, linen closets, organizing their tupperware, scrubbing the grout between their kitchen tiles, etc.. Others admitted that they felt more tired than they’ve ever felt and that they took more naps right before they gave birth than throughout their pregnancy combined. I was one of the women that had an enormous amount of energy. I literally refused to sit down, and when I did, it was to bounce on a yoga ball. I was extremely restless!
Back pain – Moms-to-be wait for contractions to begin in their belly. Many moms report feeling period-like cramps in their lower abdomen, and that was the first indicator of contractions. However, contractions can be felt in your back. It can begin as a dull ache, either constant or able to be timed. A week before my contractions began, my doctor warned me that there’s a chance that labor can begin in my back and then the pain can travel to the front. Sure enough, some of my first contractions began in my back.
These symptoms of labor don’t occur with every mom-to-be but it’s good to be on the lookout as your due date approaches. It’s a good idea to report any unusual symptoms to your doctor or doula. Better safe than sorry!