Child Birth

Beginning Labor

When labor begins, what happens?

When labor begins, the cervix dilates (opens) and the muscles in the uterus start contracting at regular intervals. These muscle contractions cause the abdomen to harden; between these contractions, the uterus relaxes and softens.

Are there changes that signal labor is beginning?

There are certain changes you may or may not notice before labor begins, including:

  • The physical sensation that the baby has lowered or dropped. This may happen anywhere from a few weeks to a few hours before labor begins, and occurs when the baby’s head settles deep into the pelvis.
  • Increased vaginal discharge which can begin several days before, or at the onset of, labor. What is false labor?