Signs of Labor: How Pregnant Moms Can Tell When Labor Is About to Start (and When It's the Real Deal!) by 30Seconds Pregnancy

Signs of Labor: How Pregnant Moms Can Tell When Labor Is About to Start (and When It's the Real Deal!)

As you get into your third trimester of pregnancylabor and delivery may weigh more and more on your mind. How will you know when labor is about to start? How will you know it actually started – for real? While every labor is different, there are some signs of labor to keep an eye out for. 

First, what is happening during labor? When labor begins, the cervix opens, or dilates. The uterus begins to contract at regular intervals, and when it does the abdomen gets hard. When contractions stop, the uterus relaxes and gets soft again. Certain changes in your body may signal that labor is about to happen. Here are some signs of impending labor, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):

  • Feeling like your baby have dropped or lowered into the pelvis. Known as lightening or your “baby dropping,” this is when your baby’s head has settled into your pelvis and can happen from a few weeks to a few hours before labor begins.
  • An increase in vaginal discharge that’s clear or slightly pink. Called show, this mucus plug accumulates at the cervix during pregnancy. When the cervix begins to dilate, the plug is pushed into the vagina. This can happen a few days before labor begins or when labor starts.

How will you know you are in true labor? According to the March of Dimes, here are the signs of the real deal:

  • Regular, strong contractions. “When you’re in true labor, your contractions last about 30 to 70 seconds and come about five to 10 minutes apart,” says the March of Dimes.
  • Pain in your lower back and belly that doesn’t go away when you move or change positions.
  • Your water breaks. When your water breaks it may be a big gush or a little trickle.

If you think you’re in labor, Mom-to-be, call your doctor or midwife immediately.

Learn the difference between true and false labor.

The content on is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider. The opinions or views expressed on do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.

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Elisa Schmitz
It is definitely confusing to know when you're in "real" labor or not. I just shared this in my first birth story: pregnancy: Natural Childbirth With First Baby: The Drug-free Labor & Delivery of My Son on His Due Date

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