You are 38 weeks 2cm dilated and 25 percent effaced when will you go into labor?

Sometime in the next three weeks! Only 5 to 10 percent of babies arrive on their due date. It really should be called an approximate date! Doctors are still not sure what the mechanism is that causes labor to start. They know it is the right combination of hormones, causing contractions that will thin out the cervix to 10cm, and then cause the baby to be pushed down and out. But is it your body or the babies that trip the switch? They don't know.

They know your body actually starts preparing for labor up to a month before you give birth. You may be completely unaware of what's going on --- or you may begin to notice new symptoms as your due date draws near. Here are some things that may happen in the weeks or days before labor starts:

In a first labor the baby usually drops deeper into the pelvis before labor starts, but not always. When this happens you start feeling like it is easier to breathe, a little less pressure under your ribs.

You may notice the baby is a little less active just before your labor starts too.

If you have been having Braxton Hicks contractions, sometimes as true labor is getting close

they become more painful, but the sign of true labor is the contractions keep coming no matter what you do, they become longer and stronger and closer together. A way to know the difference, drink a large glass of juice, take a shower, then lay down to take a nap. True labor is too painful to sleep through, but being dehydrated can cause contractions, being tense will make them more painful. So stay hydrated, stay relaxed and keep up on your rest.

Over the last nine months a "plug" of thick mucus has sealed your cervical canal, some women notice white or pink tinged discharge as your cervix thins - shortly before you go into labor.

The fact that your cervix is starting to dilate and thin out is a good sign that all is working as it should.

Usually the bag of water your baby is floating in will not rupture until labor is under way, not always. It may break in a gush or may be a slow drizzle. But when it happens you should call your doctor or midwife, normally the fluid is clear; the presence of meconium, your baby's first stool, which is sometimes a sign of fetal stress and is important information to share. Note it it is thin and stringy or thick - yellow, green or brown. It's also important to let her know if the fluid looks bloody.

If you think you may be in labor, but you aren't sure? Call - that's what the doctors are there for. If she can't tell over the phone she may have you go to the hospital to be checked, don't be upset if they send you home. Until you are in active labor home is the best place for you, you can relax, move around as you wish, bathe and eat light meals to keep up energy - all things usually deprived if you are delivering in a hospital. Walking, is also your friend, let gravity do some of the work for you.

Any of the following are symptoms to share with the doctor, sooner rather than later:

You have severe or persistent headaches, vision changes, intense pain or tenderness in your upper abdomen, abnormal swelling in your feet, legs, arms or face.

You have vaginal bleeding (more than "just bloody show") constant abdominal pain vs contractions that come and go, or a fever. You notice that your baby is less active.

Enjoy the last days of your pregnancy, it is something most of us only experience a couple times and most of us just want it to end at this point. But remember, this is a special time too. If you can get a manicure, pedicure and enjoy a nice soothing massage, now is the time. No telling when you will have a chance again.