Within my years of treating pregnant women in our clinic and including my own three births I have seen that labour can start subtly usually before week 40.
The body starts to prep us by giving us little braxton hicks at night or through the day. There can be random stages where mini contractions last for 20 minutes with each contraction coming in regular time intervals only to stop abruptly leaving us in a state of, "oh I thought we were go". This can happen at any time from 38 weeks on, sometimes earlier... But every woman is different and some can get no pre-trials but glides easily into active labour when the baby is ready.
It's just how your body is made up and how it will respond can be so different to anyone else or previous births, so be gentle on yourself and know that your body knows what it is doing.
It's always tricky the first time around as you have nothing to compare it to except maybe your mum or sisters births and this can be so different to what you will experience.
Seek guidance from health professionals but also know your inner intuition and gut feeling is very dependable if we listen.
Happy slow stages to labour gets you to the finish line, try to enjoy every twinge and false contraction knowing that this is all loading your system with oxytocin which will soften and help efface your cervix to get labour going.
Really the women's body is a masterpiece and often our thoughts and emotions just need to get out of the way and let her play her biggest symphony yet.
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