The cervix begins to soften, thin and move forward, and it may begin to open. The baby settles into the pelvis.
Contractions may be noticeable as an achy sensation or as pressure in the lower abdomen or lower back. Contractions in this phase are usually irregular -- starting and stopping, sometimes strong, sometimes mild. This is natural and your body's way of "gearing up."
This phase can last from a few hours to a few days.
Don't worry whether or not this is really labor. For the vast majority, labor eventually makes itself very clear.
Try to be patient and have confidence that your body is doing exactly what it needs to do.
Take good care of yourself: Eat, drink plenty of fluids, rest.
Do things you enjoy: Watch TV, visit with family or friends, take a walk.
Surround yourself with people with whom you feel comfortable and safe. Your support people can help by keeping you company, keeping your spirits up and providing reassurance.