What happens in the last weeks and days of pregnancy

Congrats! You’re in your ninth month of pregnancy, and you could go into labour at any time. It probably feels like forever, though, right? If this is your first pregnancy, you’re likely wondering what to expect. Pre-labour, early labour and active labour occur on a gradual continuum. Here’s what you should know:

You May:

  • Experience ‘lightening’ —more room in chest and upper abdomen.
  • Feel increased pelvic pressure and urinate more often.
  • Feel tired and anxious for the pregnancy to be over.
  • Want to put things in order (‘nesting’).
  • Have diarrhea and/or backache just before or as labour starts. Prepare by packing bags.

Changes In Your Body:

  • Braxton-Hicks contractions (painless tightenings of the uterus) occur more frequently.
  • If this is your first pregnancy, the baby’s head engages (descends snugly into the middle of your pelvis). If not, engagement usually occurs during labour, not before.
  • Baby’s movement diminishes (It’s run out of room!) Tell your doctor, however, about any very significant decrease in the baby’s movements.
  • Cervix softens and may start to efface (thin out) and dilate (open) slightly.
  • ‘Bloody show’ occurs before or as labour starts. (The mucous plug which has sealed the cervical opening during the pregnancy is now pink or blood-streaked.)

Your Physician Or Midwife May:

  • Want to examine your cervix.
  • Ask questions about symptoms as labour approaches or begins.

Originally published in March 2007. 

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