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Labor is the series of uterine contractions that dilate (open) and efface (thin) your cervix for birth. Your due date is a guide to when labor will begin, but babies often come days or weeks before or after due dates. Even so, labor need not take you by surprise. In the last weeks of pregnancy, you or your healthcare provider may notice changes that mean labor is near.
Physical changes often signal that your baby will soon be born:
Discharge from your vagina may increase and become thicker. You may notice a pink or brownish discharge called the bloody show.
The mucous plug may break down over a few weeks or all at once. Losing the plug doesn’t mean that labor will start right away.
You may feel Braxton Hicks contractions (false labor). These irregular contractions start to soften and thin the cervix. Many women mistake these contractions for true labor.