In Depth Baby Product Reviews Led by a Pediatrician

Early Term Signs of Labor

Your little one can come any time now
Early Term Signs of Labor
Credit: Olena Yakobchuk ©
Wednesday October 23, 2019

At week 37, you aren't quite to the end yet, but the finish line is in sight. If your baby is born this week, he will be considered "early term," which isn't the worst thing but read on to learn more about what is happening in these final weeks.

You may notice new symptoms or sensations around this time, like lightening as the baby moves south and engages with your pelvis or Braxton-Hicks contractions as the uterus practices for the big day. Sleeping will also be difficult as it is harder to get comfortable, and anxiety might be keeping you awake.

Monitoring Baby's Movement Patterns

Monitoring your baby's movement patterns is essential so you will recognize a change in the pattern; if the frequency of movement decreases, report this to your doctor right away.

Group B Strep Culture Results

Should you test positive for Group B Strep (GBS), your OB will be keen to start antibiotics at least 4 hours before delivery to reduce the chance of infection in the newborn.

Credit: rafaelbenari ©

Early Labor Signs

Actual labor will persist no matter what effort you make to relieve it, while false labor can often be relieved with a change of position or relaxation. Real labor will increase in intensity, and the pattern will become more consistent and closer together over time. The following are signs of early labor:

Credit: eshma ©
  • Losing Your Mucous Plug — Your mucus plug is thick mucus within the cervical canal, protecting the uterus during pregnancy. The plug has been responsible for safeguarding the uterus and baby from bacteria and infection. The plug might fall out in a noticeable lump or gradually as an increase in vaginal discharge over several days.
  • Bloody Show — If the discharge is tinged brown or pink, it is called "bloody show."
Water Breaking — If your water breaks, it is a good sign that you are experiencing actual labor. Don't expect a great gush of fluid; sometimes, it is just a trickle of fluid, and you might not be sure if it is a little pee leaking out or your amniotic fluid. A simple test can be done with a small strip of paper to determine what kind of fluid it is, so don't be worried or embarrassed if you don't know for sure; many women can't tell. If your water breaks first and labor does not start within 12 hours, your caregiver will likely want to induce labor to avoid infection to you or the baby.
  • Regular Contractions — Call your doctor immediately if you suspect or know that your water has broken or your contractions are closer than a few minutes apart.

Reference Sources

  1. American Pregnancy Association - Week 37
  1. Expecting 411
  1. I'm Pregnant! A Week-By-Week Guide From Conception to Birth
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist - How Your Fetus Grows During Pregnancy

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