OMG, your water just broke! Orrr maybe you just peed. You’re not the first woman in the history of childbearing to feel kind of clueless when it comes to deciphering the signs of labor, especially if it’s your first time around the L and D room. Maybe you’ve headed out to the hospital (and been sent home) more times than you’d care to admit, or maybe you just want to mentally prep for the birth day. Whatever your reason is, we’re covering some of the most common signs of labor from “Yes! It’s go time!” to “Hang in there, girl.”

1. Your water *actually* breaks. This is it. You absolutely can’t walk around for days or weeks after your water breaks. It’s just not healthy. Your baby needs an amniotic environment to survive, and when your sac severs, it’s go time. Before you kick it into high gear and rush off to the hospital, you need to make sure that it really was your water that broke. Sometimes the baby applies pressure in just the right way to make you pee a little. When the amniotic sac breaks, it may be in one big gush or a slight trickle. If you have any doubt, it’s always best to call your medical provider ASAP.

2. You have consistent contractions. If you’re having contractions that are kind of far apart and they don’t last long, it may not be the real deal. But if they’re coming at a steady pace, it may very well be baby time. Keep in mind, in the beginning, contractions may be fairly far apart — every 20-30 minutes. As you progress, they’ll speed up.

3. Your contractions are painful. If you feel that ground-shaking, intense pain coupled with pressure, it’s more than likely that labor is on the horizon. If you’ve never been in labor before, understanding the intricacies of contraction pain isn’t always easy — and that’s what your doc or medical pro is here for. Always give them a call if you’re at all in doubt.

4. The baby drops way down. Suddenly that basketball-sized baby bump has gone from mid-abdomen to looow down. Whew! You can finally take a deep breath. Of course, the trade-off is that you may have to pee every five seconds. When the baby drops (also known as lightening), it’s a sign that labor will start sometime relatively soon.

5. The cervix begins to dilate. As your body preps for your baby to make its way out, your cervix will start to dilate and thin, and some women may dilate a few centimeters before they go into labor. Plenty of mamas-to-be are walking around with a one- or two-centimeter-dilated cervix. That’s completely normal. Your OB or midwife will check your cervix as you get closer to your due date.

6. Your mucus plug comes out. Yes, it looks like what the name implies. It’s mucusy, possibly tinged with blood, and signals that labor is on its way. The mucous plug literally plugs up your cervix, protecting it from intrusive bacteria. When the baby is ready to make a grand appearance, you no longer need the plug. It can come out anytime from minutes or hours to days before labor begins.

What’s your favorite going-into-labor myth? Share your pick and tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)