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My Pregnancy

How to Tell When Labor Begins

First Trimester | Second Trimester | Third Trimester | Postpartum 

As labor begins, the cervix opens (dilates) and thins.  The uterus contracts at regular intervals. When this happens, the abdomen becomes hard.  Between contractions, the uterus relaxes and becomes soft. Up to the start of labor, the baby typically will continue to move.

Signs that your body is getting ready for labor include:

  • The sensation that the baby is lower in the abdomen and pelvis (dropped)
  • An increase in vaginal discharge and mucus


These signs may happen weeks before labor or at the onset of labor, every mother is unique.

Differences between false labor and true labor

Timing of contractionsirregularregular and getting closer
Changes with movementcontractions stop with changescontinue despite movement in mother's activity
Strength of contractionsweak and don't get strongerincrease in strength steadily
Pain of contractionsmild and usually felt in frontstronger and felt back to front

Call your doctor if you have any questions or aren't sure if you're in labor. During normal business hours call 713-442-0000. After hours call our 24/7 OB Hotline at 713-442-BABY (2229).