Common Signs That Labor Is 24-48 Hours Away

Common Signs That Labor Is 24-48 Hours Away
Last Updated: 08 February 2021

If you are 39 weeks pregnant and see signs of labor approaching then get in touch with your doctor or visit the hospital right away. The symptoms before labor begin to manifest at least a day or two before the onset of this phase. Read the guide to understand the signs that labor is 24-48 hours away and seek medical help immediately.

What is labor?

Labor is the stage of pregnancy in which the placenta and the fetus leave the uterus. It is the phase of childbirth that commences with painful contractions of the uterus and ends with the baby’s delivery. It is not possible to forecast the exact day and hour of entering into this stage, but one can always watch out for the symptoms before labor begins.

Signs that labor is coming soon

women extreme nesting

Water breaking

One of the most obvious signs labor is 24-48 hours away is the rupture of the amniotic sac that is popularly referred to as water breaking. The amniotic sac is the fluid-filled sac in which the fetus grows and develops. The sac ruptures when the baby’s head pushes against it with pressure.

Losing mucus plug

The mucus plug comprises a thick accumulation of mucus at the cervical opening. The thick plug of mucus prevents bacteria from entering the uterus and affecting the fetus. One of the signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away is that the mucus plug becomes loose and drops out during urination.

Slight weight loss

The weight loss may not be noticeable, but it is quite common to shed the weight of around 1-3 pounds a couple of days before the labor. It is not fat loss but the loss of excess water weight. The water weight loss happens because of the loss of fluid in the amniotic sac. If you are a skinny pregnant woman then consult with the doctor about excessive weight loss.

Extreme nesting

Pregnant moms go through a phase of nesting instinct during pregnancy, and the instinct reaches an extreme level before labor. Within 24-48 hours of labor, the body and mind of a pregnant woman enter into a frenzied mode rejuvenated by a sudden burst of energy: she feels an urge to get the nursery room cleaned, sanitized, decorated, and all set up for the newborn.

Low back pain

Even though it is common to experience lower back pain and a dull ache in the ligaments and joints during pregnancy, the lower back pain becomes unbearable during the labor stage. The pre-labor back pain becomes intense and spreads to the pelvic region at the last 24-48 hours before childbirth.

signs of soon labor

Cervical dilation

During the last phase of pregnancy, the gynecologist conducts weekly tests to check the cervical dilation of the pregnant woman. The cervix dilates around 24-48 hours before your big moment so that the baby can easily pass through the birth canal. The final dilation of the cervix is usually around 10 cm, but during the labor phase, the cervix dilates to 2-3 cm indicating the onset of the imminent delivery phase.

Loosening of joints

The inset of the labor stage manifests with the release of the relaxing hormone that loosens the ligaments and joints to prepare the body for the delivery phase. The lower back and pelvic joints become loose. When the body attempts to ease the process of delivery the rectal muscles relax as well .


The hyper-secretion of the relaxation hormone during the pre-labor stage results in diarrheic reactions. If you experience a sudden bout of diarrhea along with other signs of labor approaching then get in touch with your gynecologist immediately.

False labor vs. real labor: main differences

The primary difference between false and real stages lies in the intensity of contractions. Most pregnant women begin to experience contractions almost a few weeks or months before entering the phase. These false labor contractions, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions, are milder than the real ones and occur as a result of the contraction of the uterine muscles. These are signs labor is days away.

cervical dilation

Real contractions are intensely painful, occur frequently, and last longer than a minute or so. They occur every 4-5 minutes and indicate the beginning of the birth stage within a couple of days. You may also use castor oil to induce labor pain but only with the permission of the doctor.

When to go to the hospital?

Get in touch with the doctor as soon as you start experiencing strong and painful contractions within 4-5 minutes. If you don’t feel certain about whether you are in labor or not, get in touch with your gynecologist for help. Visit the hospital if you notice any bright red discharge or bleeding, your water breaks, or if you experience indistinct vision along with sudden swelling and severe headache that occur due to preeclampsia.


It is finally time to become a mother, and even though the whole process of labor is painful, it is still the happiest and most hopeful phase of pregnancy. Do not feel hesitant about getting in touch with your gynecologist whenever you experience pain or any kind of signs labor is 24-48 hours away. Visit the hospital for regular checkups, keep the hospital bag checklist at hand, and try to stay calm even if you feel like a bundle of nerves. Childbirth is unpredictable and the best way to tackle it is to pay attention to your body for the warning signs of labor.
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