Many women experience diarrhea or nausea at the start of labor. Contractions
At the beginning of labor, the uterus begins to contract (squeeze). These contractions are what move your baby down the birth canal. Contractions (labor pains) often begin with cramping or discomfort in your lower back and abdomen that doesn't stop when you change position. Over time, these contractions become stronger and more regular.
Contractions alone may or may not be an indication that you're in labor. Many women experience false labor (Braxton-Hicks contractions) and believe that they're in real labor. To distinguish between false and true labor, consider:
Using a watch or clock, measure the frequency of your contractions by timing them from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next. True labor will develop into a regular pattern, with your contractions growing closer together. In false labor, contractions remain irregular.
Measure the duration of each contraction by timing when it begins and when it stops. True contractions last about 30 seconds at the onset and get progressively longer — up to 75 seconds — and stronger. False labor contractions vary in length and intensity.
So, when will your labor start? It's really anyone's call. Your health care provider can make an educated guess, but the fact is, your cervix can begin to thin, soften and open (efface and dilate) gradually over a period of weeks or even a month or more in some women. In others, these changes can occur in a matter of hours.
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