Nesting is a natural and emotional process whereby a mother will ‘prepare’ for the arrival of her baby. In other species, it is carried out by preparing the nest, collecting leaves, and the like. In humans, however, it is experienced by the fact that the mother will start cleaning the house. She will dust and organize things. This is just an instinctual reaction to the baby’s arrival―to prepare everything beforehand. Just be careful when you dust though. Take precautions when you do it. So if tomorrow you are suddenly overcome by the need to clean the house, understand that it is one of the signs that your labor is fast approaching.
As the time for labor approaches, you might start experiencing diarrhea. This is actually the body’s way of preparing you for labor. It will release the chemical prostaglandins which leads to loose bowel movements. The contractions that you experience during bowel movements are similar to those experienced during labor, therefore it helps. So also, it helps in emptying the bowels so that the baby is delivered properly.
The ‘engagement’ or the baby ‘dropping’ as it is called, will occur very early on for women in their first pregnancies; while for women who’ve had babies before, will experience this just before the actual delivery. In this, the baby will lower itself into the pelvic area and in position for the birth. This allows the woman to breathe easier as the baby is not pushing itself into the ribcage. The heartburn and general discomfort will also decrease.
Vaginal discharge (white and thick) that occurs throughout pregnancy, will increase. But along with that, one might also notice red streaks and large mucous lumps. This is the mucus plug that protects the opening of the cervix from bacteria and germs from entering. As labor comes near, the mucus plug will fall out and you might notice that it is tinged with brown, red or pink streaks (that’s why referred to as the bloody show).
Sometimes, women will experience sharp pains in early contractions, and might mistake them to be one of the signs of approaching labor. But if these contractions have no real pattern to them, then they might just be Braxton-Hicks contractions. These are infrequent and will only help the uterus to practice and prepare for the real contractions. These will also help the cervix to soften in preparation for the delivery. When this changes to regular rhythmic patterns, it is a guaranteed sign that labor is near. This results in the tightening of the stomach muscles and a feeling similar to that experienced by some women during menstrual cramps. To relieve the pain during labor and contractions, it is best to do some form of pregnancy exercises.
This is probably one of the most impending signs of labor. This happens when the amniotic sac that is filled with fluids (surrounding the baby), ruptures. The liquid then starts flowing down the vagina either in a trickle or a strong gush. This sign is a guarantee that labor is fast approaching. Sometimes the doctor might have to rupture a few membranes for the water to break and the delivery process commence. In some cases, the water will break before the contractions begin and in others after.