It's a well established fact of life that the last few weeks of your pregnancy will drag on, seemingly with no end in sight. You're carrying a full size baby, you're swollen, tired, and have to pee every 37 seconds — it's only normal to want to get this show on the road. Luckily, you're not going to be waiting forever. There are plenty of early signs of labor to keep an eye out for to encourage you that the end is indeed in sight.
Once you're passed the "full term" mark (37 weeks, in most cases,) you can expect your labor to slowly begin. More often than not, labor happens in small increments, not all at once in a big, dramatic rush. In the last few weeks, you'll notice small changes to your body that will hint that your baby is getting ready to make their grand appearance.
Although it's hard to do anything except sit and daydream about the day you'll finally be able to see your toes again, the last weeks of pregnancy can be just as exciting as the other nine months if you let it. Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs and before you know it your baby will be here.
1. Your Baby Will "Drop"
According to the Dr. Sears website, sometime in the last few weeks of your pregnancy, you'll notice your baby feels lower in your abdomen. This is referred to as dropping, lightening, or engaging. Your baby bump will probably change shape as well during this time.
2. Your Cervix Begins To Dilate And Efface
In your last check-ups before giving birth, your OB will check your cervix for signs of dilation and effacement. What to Expect noted that this is simply your body's way of thinning out and opening your cervix for delivery.
3. You'll Start Nesting
Although the American Pregnancy Association (APA) noted that nesting can happen at any point during your pregnancy, it most frequently happens during the last weeks of pregnancy as your body gets ready for labor. It typically takes the form of sudden urges to clean or finish any last minute details before baby comes.
4. You'll Lose Your Mucus Plug
The APA noted that losing your music plug is a sure sign that labor is on its way. Although losing your mucus plug doesn't mean that labor is happening now — it could still be weeks, days, or hours away — it means that your body is getting ready.
5. You'll Have "Practice Contractions"
Braxton Hicks contractions, or "practice contractions," happen frequently throughout the third trimester for most women. Baby Center noted that they simply tone your uterus for the "real deal."
6. Your Practice Contractions Might Start To Hurt
Although Braxton Hicks contractions are usually painless and irregular, in the last few weeks of pregnancy, they may start to be a bit more uncomfortable than they were before.
7. Your Joints May Feel Looser
According to Today's Parent, your body starts producing relaxin, a hormone that helps your muscles relax in preparation for labor. Although it's primarily meant to help your uterus and birth canal prepare, it can affect the rest of your body as well, sometimes leading to increased back pain or even more frequent bowel movements.
8. Your Weight Gain Will Stall
Although you've been rapidly gaining weight throughout the third trimester, in the last few weeks, your weight may stall, according to Baby Center.
9. Your Water May Break
Some women's water breaks before going into labor. Parents noted that your labor may still be a few hours, or even days out, but once it breaks you know that your baby will be on their way soon.