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Signs of labor during pregnancy: Bowel movements, cramping, and spotting, oh my!

by Jane · 49 comments

Mom-to-be just waiting for baby in the end of the third trimester.38 weeks pregnant and counting… and waiting.  Are signs of labor during my pregnancy starting?

It’s funny because I know that I’m 1cm dilated and 80% effaced and I keep getting my hopes up with every little sign.  I’m also quite aware of the fact that dilation and effacement doesn’t necessarily mean a thing.  It’s such a tease really.

I find myself looking for signs of labor approaching and then I think “Is this it?” and it never is.  I need to remain calm and stop worrying.  I really just don’t want to have to worry about being induced, but no sense in worrying about that now either.

I had my last pregnancy internal on Friday and I must say that I dislike having my appointment on Fridays.  It was much better when I had my appointment on Wednesdays because the office was always open should I need to call about a question.  With a Friday appointment I can’t just call the office.  Well, I technically could call the emergency number, which pages my OB, but the key word there is emergency.

Anyways, after my internal on Friday my OB told me that I could expect a little spotting since there was a little drop of blood on her glove.  No big deal, right?

Well I had spotting the whole damn weekend, accompanied with menstrual cramp feelings.  I wanted to call the office, but did not deem this quite an emergency, so I refrained.  Naturally I was super excited when the office re-opened yesterday and I was able to place my call to the nurse.

Wouldn’t you know that she called me back while I was in the produce section of the grocery store?  Perfect location to talk blood, mucus plug, cramping, and labor, isn’t it?

Anyways, the nurse said my OB said it was nothing to worry about, most likely my cervix ripening and shedding some blood.  She also said that my OB thinks it will be just a matter of time now (another tease, no?).  I was told that I should not be having period-like blood, so if I do to call the office or the emergency number if the office is closed.  So far, so good (as far as having no period-like blood).

So now I just sit and wait and continue to look for other…

Signs of labor during pregnancy week 38?

signs of labor during pregnancyFor example, and consider yourself fair-warned about this TMI topic coming up, pregnancy bowel movements.

Up until four days ago, I was not pooping.  I swear that a week had gone by, or at least it felt like that.  It could have only been a few days.  Obviously I wasn’t keeping track.

But four days ago, everything started to move in my bowels and this was without changing up my diet.  No diarrhea (really, I did warn you about the topic!), but not extremely “solid” either.  And it’s been happening daily at least 2-3 times.  This is brand-spanking new for me and I like to think that it’s a sign.  Pregnancy bowel movements is not my favorite topic by far, but it’s a sign my body is preparing for labor!

I’ve read and heard numerous times that bowel movements at the end of your pregnancy is a sign that labor is soon because your body will start to cleanse that unwanted stuff before labor.

The only reason I remember that is because there were about six signs of preliminary labor and I checked off each item to Tarzan as we were watching a DVD on the signs of labor – which we will be reviewing on here within the next day or two.  The only thing that I hadn’t experienced on the signs of labor list was “diarrhea”.  Lovely topic.

And then things started to move, so maybe I can check that item off the list too.

Even if I can, it doesn’t really mean anything.  My baby will come out when he is ready, no matter what I do to help him along the way (spicy foods, sex, walking, etc).  I wish it was easier to get him to make his appearance, but I know that when he does it will be special and I will be so thankful to hold him in my arms instead of him pressing against my bladder.

All. Of. The. Time.

You might also want to read:

  1. Signs of labor? 39 weeks pregnant and the bloody show or mucus plug arrived today
  2. 38 weeks pregnant: OB pregnancy appointment, date night, & my labor dream
  3. 38 weeks pregnant: We finally packed the hospital bag for labor and delivery
  4. 39 weeks pregnant: Aerosmith concert vs. labor and delivery
  5. 33 weeks pregnant: Disturbing dream about labor and delivery

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bun in the oven

so back to the tmi scene… i am 38 weeks pregnant and last night had a weird episode i havent experienced up to this point…..for two weeks now at my check ups my baby has been extremely low so low that my cervix is still posterior and his head is actually in front of the cervix is extremely soft and about 70% effaced but as of last week still no dialtion. I have braxton hicks contractions on a regular basis at night they feel like awful period cramps that wont go away. well last night i went to walmart and we walked around for about an hour and then i came home and rocked on my medicine ball for about 20 mins….then soon after i started getting contractions they were way different then the braxton hicks i had previously they started in my back and then my whole stomach would tighten up for about 60 seconds as tho i had the worse gas pains/ i dont know what i had every had i started timing them and they got down to six minutes apart. then i started feeling sick so i went to the bathroom and had a bm it was soft but pretty normal. that didnt help and then i got really really nauseous and ended up back in the bathroom and puked up everything i had eaten….i sat on the bed with my husband and could barely sit up so we decided to pack the rest of our bag and head to the hospital while doing that i felt the urge to go do a bm again and this time is was complete dirrehea sorry again:) prob 20 minutes later we finally got in the car and started driving and i was still having contractions but the pain of them had definitely died down we got half way to the hospital and i told him to turn around since they hurt now but it was a pain i could deal with….it is normal at this stage to have contractions that bad and that close together and then have them diminish any help would be nice this is my first and im not really sure what to expect

2 ROnda

omg I’m going to a first time granny soon, my daughter is due august 11th but this week she has been having more freqeant BM’s and her feet are killing her to stand on…no sweeling though and she is feeling EXTREME TIREDNESS. we went to Dr last friday and there was no cnage but the baby has been dropped and sittting low into the pelvis for 2 weeks now but thats it, she is 38 weeks and 2 days please someone tell me we are getting close…..impatient grammy lol

3 michelle

This is so awesome. (The whole site). I am a single Mommy and 37 weeks and was looking up ways to help induce on line and came across this site. The fact that someone is just being open and not giving all the double talk that my flippin’ docs have been giving me is amazing. When I get off work I never have the time or energy to sit and research forever about everything on what to expect and all the signs. It was neat to read both your and your husband’s outlook on it all and I laughed and found it all helpful.

4 jelisa hudson

well im 38 weeks pregnant and i been cramping reallly bad this one didnt stop i jus continue to keep on cramping and im so tired yesterday i felt sick can anybody help me out ..wat should i do i went to the doctor and the day before yesterday but they sent me back home

5 sarah

hi everyone! Im new to this, and its my first pregnancy too. I get excited that everything is a sign of labour lol but then nothing! Im 39 weeks and 3 days and have had all the usual. Contractions, loose bowel movements, lost my plug, etc etc. But so far, nothing. I just cant wait to meet he/she now im so excited. It feels like ive been pregnant for an eternity, but its so worth it and im so ready now! X

6 best time

However, since pregnancy can go at least 2 weeks after the due date is it not normal

7 Georgie

I am due in 19 days with my first, and just noticed this AM a bit of spotting. After a bit of a freak out & a little cry, I searched & searched the internet to find some answers. This forum so far had the best posts that I could relate to. I have a Dr’s Appointment in 2 days, so I will just call the nurses hotline & try & breathe & be calm until then. :)

8 Carico

I am in your boat now so I thought I would take a look at what you had to say. It is funny how many sites I have been to looking for signs that it will be coming soon.

9 teresa

i am 38 weeks as of today, 7/16/09. this is my 4th pregnancy but my 5th kid–I had twin boys last pregnancy. The twins were induced. My first internal exam was 7/6 and was told i was 1cm dilated, baby in -1station, and about 25% effaced. i was excited and excitement soon evaporated as the days passed and nothing happened–no mucous plug, no contractions. At my app’t this past monday no big changes but the dr. said my cervix was ‘ripened’. We told her we were trying to hold out until the next monday because my husband starts his vacation then and she told us not to have sex.
Again excitement which has gone down as the days have passed. Everytime i go to the bathroom I look for some ‘bloody show’ to no avail. everytime i feel my uterus harden at all i think, “is this it?” I lost my plug 4 days before i had my 2nd son and my water broke 3 days after the plug came out.

tarzan: which is more terrible: bloody show or mucous plug or ripened cervix?

i am trying to find things to busy my mind so i don’t just obsess about this but nothing is doing the job.

nice to read about someone in the same boat!

10 Tarzan

Ahhhhh! OK, let’s come together and remove the word ‘mucus plug’ from our vocabulary. It’s such a terrible word that gives me some disgusting mental images. :)

From now on I’ll be calling it the ‘internal cork’ because once that pops out, you’re one step closer to celebrating! The image of a cork popping off a bottle of champagne is a much more pleasant image than a gob of snot that @mommymichelle6 said above. That goes right in line with my mental image of a mucus plug! LOL!

11 Gilz

Yip. It goes like this : soft poop, spotting, constant back ache, diarrhea, mucus plug poppin out, slight cramping…all early early signs of labour (in that order)

12 mommymichelle6

Jane–sounds like you have an awesome attitude about the whole thing. And you are right, I’ve found that NOTHING speeds up the inevitable. It happens when it’s supposed to happen.


To Tarzan–mucous plug always looked to me like snot. Maybe thinking of that will be more helpful? I’ve passed that a full 2 weeks before labor too.

Good luck. Excited for you that it’s almost time to meet your son.

13 megan

i lost my mucus plug after an internal and i STILL had to be induced!

14 Tarzan

@Lee…. That whole mucus plug thing weirds me out! I know Jane and she’ll want me to look at it. I can’t imagine what it looks like – and honestly not looking forward to seeing it! I wish they figured out a better name for it – maybe it’s the name that weirds me out. Mucus plug – just sounds horrible.

I think it should be called a “baby stopper” or maybe an “internal cork” or something. :) That would be something that I would be OK with looking at!

15 Julie

Thanks for the TMI– seriously. Women really need to talk about this stuff. I JUST learned today in a birthing class that the poop stuff is normal–the baby’s head is moving closer to your cervix and, in the process, is pressing down on your rectum, giving you a sense of urgency. So it’s all good!

16 Jessi

Oh how exciting! It’s so close now!

17 Lee

Just wait till that Mucus plug unplugs! Thanks for the twitter follow! Love you site…so, what’s gonna happen after his boys have swum out?? Will you continue with updates on being new mommy??

18 HDL

Oh yay!! How thrilling that you’re almost to the big birthday! I have another 19 or so weeks to wait and I’m already looking forward to those labor signs (keep on cooking, baby). (Actually, I would be thrilled just to poop twice a day, regardless!)

19 Tarzan

I have to add my 2 cents here… It’s been an interesting couple of days with Jane updating me every time she goes to the bathroom. I never knew anyone could get so excited about going # 2 a few times a day, but I guess after MONTHS of not going much, it’s an exciting thing!

I do my best to get excited about Jane’s new pooping schedule. LOL HOWEVER, the real exciting thing is that Jane’s body is preparing…. and that makes me even more anxious!

This reminds me of flying in an airplane. When you’re about 30 minutes away from landing, they ask you to put your tray tables up, seat backs up, and prepare for landing. I always thought, “Why do they have us do that so early? We have another 30 minutes in the air!” I guess they need to make all the preparations for landing, as Jane’s body needs to make all the preparations for having a baby!

Based on things I’ve read, these signs of labor could be a flag that Jane could go into labor soon. Or, she could just keep having these signs for the next couple of weeks.

By then I’ll have bitten off all my finger nails, created a hole in the rug from all my pacing, eaten ten gallons of ice cream, and be so darn tired because I’ve been waking up at night all the time every time Jane moves and I think, “Oh no, here we go!”

Talk about sitting on pins and needles.

I never expected the last part of pregnancy to be like this! It’s so exciting and so nerve racking at the same time!

20 MeMaRose

Very exciting and you are certainly moving in the right direction!! It sure is nerve racking to wait; as you said looking for all the “signs” to happen. I have to share with you that my son was born right on the due date that they gave me and I was in labor for quite a long time; but it sure was worth it. They know when it is time to come out to the world; but frankly, I think they like their little nest inside of Momma and are quite comfortable!
Glad to hear that things are progressing for you finally and I wish you the best of luck and an easy quick delivery :o ) Please keep us all posted…this is very exciting!!!!!

21 Julia Bastos

This is it, darling. Buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life. I wish you the best.

22 Sarah @

I’m in the same boat! When my bowel movements loosened, I was sooooooo excited.

Turns out that because I have Crohn’s disease, it really didn’t mean anything. I’m still pregnant three weeks later, SIGH. But from what I hear, I’m the anomaly, so I’m very excited for you. I can’t wait to hear about little Tarzan! It’s so awesome and scary and exciting all at once to look for the little signs =)

23 Jamie

It’s only a matter of time now!

24 Leanna

TOTALLY sounds like your body is getting ready! So exciting. I’ve always heard that pre-labor poop (like you’re describing) is a pretty good sign. “Loose bowels” they call it. Lovely, eh?

I am so excited!!!

25 bessie.viola

YAY! :)

26 TheAngelForever

The body can certainly be a tease at the end of pregnancy. Rest as much as you can because I would say your days are most definitely numbered. Oh and Ginny is right . . . happens to a lot of people (oy!). May the force be with you :)

27 Susan

How exciting! Sounds like you are moving right along. I am waiting for the tweet that you are heading to the hospital.

28 Maria

Sounds like you’re gearing up! But gearing up can take a couple of weeks. ;)

My SIL had cramping after her internals but delivered on her due date. I was a week late with both my boys.

29 Ginny

Just wait…pooping during labor is a “fun” thing too.

I had contractions while attending a Dodger game last year. There’s no faster way to get out of the stadium than to grab your belly mid-stadium, let out a little “ouuuuch” and watch the sea divide.

My doctor told me that I would most likely deliver early. Evil Evil Evil man.

I delivered on my due date.

30 OMG We're Pregnant

I can’t comment too much on what’s happening, as being an amateur at all things baby i would not have a clue BUT hope all is well, and that your bambino pops out soon. How very very exciting … poo or no poo!

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