How will I know if I'm going into labor?

Real Mom Problem

“What did the beginning of your labor feel like? I totally don't want to jump the gun. I'm not sure what to expect, and I've read so many conflicting things on what it feels like when labor first begins.”

by LovingSAHMommy LovingSAHMommy

Quick Tips

  • 1. Many moms describe contractions as feeling like more intense menstrual cramps
  • 2. Others describe them as a tightening in the lower abdominal area
  • 3. Learn to recognize the difference between real labor and a false alarm
  • 4. If you're unsure if you're really in labor, try drinking water, taking a shower, or walking around to see if the feeling stops or subsides
  • 5. Always discuss with your doctor or midwife when during labor you should call them and when you should head for the hospital

Real Mom Solutions

Going into labor is the moment you've been awaiting for nine months. But how will you know if you're really in labor? The moms of CafeMom share how to recognize the signs of labor.

Check for These Signs of Labor

  • wife2jeff

    For me, it started out like period cramps that turned into intense burning. My stomach became as hard as a rock too.

  • Pandapanda

    My first clue for both of mine was my discharge/plug changing. It gets to be waxy/rubbery, super thick, and nearly impossible to wipe off. I had it two hours before active labor with my first. I woke up at 7am with my second having this discharge and she was born at 4:52am the next morning.

  • CjEmmemommy

    With my first, my water broke. The others were contractions. They started mild but 5 minutes apart and while they weren't super painful, I clearly felt a tightening from both sides towards the peak in my lower front stomach.

  • .Sugaree.

    My early labor felt like period-type cramps. Not like Braxton Hicks or regular contractions. Very, very crampy and also in my lower back. Just like I was about to start my period.

How to Recognize a False Alarm

  • ikesmommy200

    Try drinking something to tell if it's a false alarm. I had a false alarm last week and just turns out I was dehydrated. But with my oldest I got very restless the day before, and had hardcore nesting. I started to vomit, I lost my plug, had cramps different from Braxton Hicks, then I started to spot. I knew it was finally time when my water broke, and that was at approximately 38 weeks.

  • msbusychild

    With my last one I wasn't sure so I took a shower, and nothing went away. So I knew it was real.

  • .Sugaree.

    If it's not "real," bathing and resting and not really paying attention should slow things down and give you a little break.

  • TTC2Long

    My OB said not to worry unless I had six or more contractions per hour. I was on bedrest for preterm labor at 31 weeks. Lay down on your left side and drink some water.