- Upset stomach
- Cramps that seem to embrace (cruelly) your torso and include lower back and groin, and which become stronger and more frequent as time progresses (also cruelly)
- Mucus discharge from vagina, possibly tinged with blood
- Breaking of the waters (you’ve seen it in the movies)
Most women experience pretend labour (the professionals call it Braxton Hicks contractions) before the actual day. Think of this as a dress rehearsal for the big recital. Your uterus is contracting mildly to prepare for the work ahead and soften the cervix. Braxton Hicks contractions are unpredictable and irregular and they are not very painful. They usually last 30 seconds to 2 minutes and they can be an opportunity to practise your breathing techniques if you’re a real keener (or a great excuse to get out of finishing that load of dishes).
If those contractions turned out to be the real thing, baby would stand a very good chance outside the womb at this point. She’s almost 5 pounds now (food reference for old times’ sake: about the size of a cantaloupe) and 18 inches long – that’s a foot and a half! Not that you can see it, but baby is now opening her eyes when awake and closing them when sleeping. You, on the other hand, will soon learn to sleep with one eye open.
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