Fertility TTC, Labor, Pregnancy

Signs That Labor is 24 to 48 Hours Away

are you in labor

Are you looking for signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away? Remember labor is different for everyone, but sometimes the symptoms are similar. I know pregnancy can be very hard in the end. Back pain, varicose veins, and ligament pain are all bothering you right now, but keep in mind soon you will have your baby!

Before your body goes into labor, you may experience physical symptoms that could hint your body is near labor. Some of the early signs of labor are common among pregnant women near their due date. If you are interested in knowing which symptoms mean labor is imminent, keep reading. 

In this post, I will discuss the following.

  • How will I know labor is close?
  • Is labor 24-48 hours away?
  • Not the Signs that Labor is 24 to 48 Hours Away – False Labor
  • How do you feel a few hours before labor?
  • Physical Signs That Labor Is 24 to 48 Hours Away
  • Can labor start and stop over a few days?
  • What to do if you think you are in labor?
  • Can labor start and stop over days?
  • What time of the day does labor usually begin?
  • What to do if your having signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away?
  • What is silent labor?


This post is not medical advice. You should ask your doctor about anything you want to know. This is just information to be read and should not be taken as any type of advice. 

How will I know labor is close?

You can tell labor is close when you begin to experience physical signs of labor approaching. Your doctor will give you your due date after your first ultrasound. It is an estimate of when you will give birth, and it is calculated using the first day of your last period. 

They don’t know exactly when you ovulated and pregnancies are not exactly 9 months. When your baby is ready, he/she will signal your body. Approximately only 5 percent of women actually give birth on their due dates. 

Once your water breaks, or you feel contractions that is when you should call labor and delivery and explain to them your symptoms. Make sure you have timed your contractions for at least an hour before calling. If the doctors agree that you may be in labor, they will tell you to go to the hospital.

Unfortunately, sometimes you are told to go to the hospital and you are then asked to leave because you are not in real labor.

This happens to many women and you should not feel ashamed or embarrassed for thinking you are in labor. Many false labor symptoms are similar to actual labor. Also, doctors send many women back every day, you are not the first one and you will not be the last. Keep your head high, and stay strong because soon you will be in the hospital for actual labor. 

a woman experiencing signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away

Is labor 24-48 hours away?

You can never know for sure that labor is close. However, physical early signs of labor are good indicators of labor approaching.

Some women experience something called false labor. When you feel very painful contractions, sometimes your body is just preparing for labor. These symptoms usually confuse a mother and may lead her to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, she will be sent back with no progressing dilation. To avoid this from occurring, continue reading. 

Not the Signs that Labor Is 24 to 48 Hours Away: False Labor

  • The length of contractions and the time between them is irregular. They may stay weak, or begin strong but get weaker. They may be ten minutes apart and then become 7 minutes apart and then suddenly stop for no reason. These contractions are called Braxton hicks contractions. These contractions are usually painless and do not cause any cervical change. 
  • During false labor, taking a bath, walking, or changing positions would decrease the intensity of contractions. It might disappear altogether. Sometimes, dehydration also causes false labor, so keep drinking water.
  • Usually, during false labor, you will not bleed, your water will not break and you will have no abnormal discharge. You will just feel contractions in the abdominal area. They may or may not hurt. 

How do you feel a few hours before labor?

Some pregnant women just have a feeling that labor is near a few hours before they enter the early stage of labor. They may also be very emotional because they are afraid of the big change that is coming. They may also feel the physical early signs before labor starts.

Early Signs of Labor – Physical Signs That Labor Is 24 to 48 Hours Away

You may experience a few physical symptoms before labor begins including weight loss, extreme nesting, water breaking, low back pain, dilation of the cervix, loss of mucus plug, bloody show, contractions, and diarrhea. 

Weight Loss

Yes, the beginning of your weight loss journey begins now. You may lose up to three pounds right before labor. That is because your baby drops causing more pressure on the bladder. Due to this, you begin urinating more. Also, the amniotic fluid around your baby may start to decrease as the baby grows.

Extreme Nesting

Extreme nesting is an extreme amount of energy pregnant women begin to feel which motivates them to clean and get ready for the baby. You might feel this a few weeks before labor or if it’s extreme, it could be right before labor begins. Use this time to wash your baby’s clothes and add the last touches to your baby’s nursery. Have fun with it! Your baby is coming soon!

Water Breaking

If your water breaks, call the doctor right away whether you have contractions or not. They must begin labor soon if contractions don’t follow within 96 hours. If you have signs of infection or the baby is in distress, you will be induced sooner.  If your water has a color and is not clear call your doctor right away. It could mean you have meconium in your water meaning the baby pooped in you. 

Low Back Pain

Contractions can actually begin in the lower back. Many women have reported this symptom. If you feel the pain come and go, those might be actual contractions. This is sometimes called back labor. The pain can also begin to go down your legs. Back labor is said to hurt more than normal labor. I luckily did not have back labor. 

Dilation of Cervix

You should be seeing a doctor at least once a week now. A cervical dilation of 2 to 3 cm signals labor is very near. Some people stay that dilated for a number of weeks, so it is a good sign but not an accurate one. Effacement is also a good indicator of labor. The more thinned out your cervix is, the closer labor is. From experience, I can tell you walking really helps with this. 

Loss of Mucus Plug & Bloody Show

The bloody show is a great sign that labor is very near (within 48 hours). It refers to vaginal discharge that has blood in it or it could appear like spotting. Usually, it occurs after or during the time you lose your mucus plug. Keep in mind, if you lose your mucus plug your body can regenerate it. So, losing your mucus plug alone is a good sign but it is not a major sign that labor might begin. Some people lose parts of their plug throughout their entire pregnancy.

The mucus plug is discharge made from mucus that the cervix secretes in order to protect the baby from bacteria and other harmful pathogens. It kind of creates a plug that closes the uterus. You usually lose parts of it when your cervix begins to dilate. It kind of looks like a huge chunk of clear discharge sometimes with blood in it. The cervix is filled with blood vessels so when it gets irritated they pop. 

Some women may not notice losing their mucus plug either because it came out as parts or it fell in the toilet. It could also be wiped off without being noticed. 

loss of mucus plug -signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away

Contractions & Cramps

False labor contractions are contractions that prepare your body for the actual thing. You can identify false labor by measuring the number of contractions you have over a period of time. If they are irregular or becoming weaker with time, it might not be the actual thing.

Use an app with a contraction calculator to help you determine whether they are frequent or not. Real contractions are contractions that intensify with time and don’t go away with movement or change in activity. You should have actual labor contractions that last about a minute and come every five minutes. 


Right before labor, your body releases a hormone called relaxin which loosens your joints. It does this in order to help the body go through labor. The hormone relaxin can cause diarrhea and is a major labor sign. 

What to do if you think you are in labor?

a woman having signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away
  • If this is your first baby, then you should go to the hospital when your contractions last for more than 45 seconds, and between each contraction is 3-5 minutes. Calculate the amount of time between your home and the hospital.
  • If this is not your first baby, then you should go to the hospital when your contractions last more than 45 seconds and between each contraction is 5-7 minutes. 

Can labor start and stop over a few days?

Yes, labor can start and stop. You may be in the first stage of labor for a week. This happens because of the hormone oxytocin. Right before labor, the mother’s body releases the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the abdominal muscles to contract. 

Your body sometimes enters the fight and flight mode which causes the hormone Adrelanine to increase, and labor stops. This is totally normal. Your body is just preparing for labor. 

Once, your body decides to continue releasing oxytocin, your contraction will become much more intense and you will enter active labor. 

What time during the day does labor usually begin?

Labour usually begins during the night. That is because our bodies are relaxed during the night and our Adrelanine levels are very low. Oxytocin is released and the hormone melatonin increases. 

When this happens, just relax your body so you can enter the active stage of labor. Our bodies prefer going to labor when we are not active. 

What to do when you are having signs that labor is 24 to 48 hours away?

  • Have your birth plan ready. 
  • Write down the labor and delivery phone number.
  • Have your hospital bag prepared? 
  • Place the car seat in the car.
  • Wash all baby clothes and sheets. 
  • Plan ahead of time.
  • Make sure your phone and camera are charged. 
  • Eat before going to the hospital.

What is silent labor? 

Some women do not experience any labor symptoms. They do not feel contractions or do not realize that they are in labor. This is called silent labor.

If you feel that your body is telling you to push and you feel your baby descending, call a doctor and get checked. 

In Conclusion – Signs that Labor is 24 to 48 Hours Away

Sometimes our bodies tell us that labour is imminent. Some early signs of labor include loss of mucus plug, joint loosening, bloody show, and cramps. If you are experiencing these symptoms, do not go to the doctor yet. Wait until you feel the contraction in your abdominal area or lower back every 5 minutes. Then call labor and delivery. 

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3 years ago

Great post! I know this will be helpful for new mothers! This is was it was like for me too!

3 years ago

This is such a helpful post

3 years ago

Oh how this would have been helpful 8 years ago! LOL

3 years ago

This is super helpful to expectant mama’s. Another thing with false labor, it becomes more common the more children one has.

3 years ago

I remember when I went into labor with both my kiddos. First one was a panic of course second one was an alright here we go again!

3 years ago

This is great information. I never had contractions on my own with any of my births (had to have Pitocin). Even the one when my water broke!

3 years ago

This is so helpful and well detailed

Ashley t
Ashley t
3 years ago

This is very useful information for any one that is pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

3 years ago

I was actually in active labor at the hospital and the nurses were absolutely amazed that I didn’t feel any of the contractions. Then, a couple hours later I just hit the ground they were so bad. I was so glad to have a jacuzzi tub in my delivery room! The human body is such a wild thing.

Danai @ Living, Learning, Eating

This couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m 37+5 and really hoping for a December baby, so I’m reading labor into every little twinge. It’s good to know how to recognize the real thing when it’s finally time!

Deborah Brooks
3 years ago

oh gosh it’s been 20 years for me! Always great info and tips to have

3 years ago

A useful post for the moms to be x

3 years ago

A useful post for the mons to be x

3 years ago

I have had two kids and both labours were completely different. Great experience I have to say, after all. When you see the little face, you forget about all the pain you’ve just been through. Amazing!

Amber Myers
Amber Myers
3 years ago

Oh gosh, I remember this. I knew I was in labor when it hurt. Then I was like, “Epidural time.”

3 years ago

All three of my labors were completely different. You just have to be aware of your body!

3 years ago

Ok this is great! I will have to save this for when i have kids thanks for sharing this information

3 years ago

Wow! Everything an expected mother needs to know. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had no idea what to expect. Reading a post like this one would’ve prepared me for the unknown. Thank you for sharing.