The early signs of labour are:
- A show (the mucous plug at your cervix comes away and appears as a pinky-brown jelly-like blob or in pieces)
- You might feel pains that feel like strong period pains (these are the start of contractions)
- You might have pain in your lower back that comes in waves.
You may find that your waters break, in which case you know that labour is, or soon will be, under way, or you might start by feeling contractions. These will be different from the practice, Braxton Hicks contractions that you may already have had. They feel stronger, deeper and more painful. Look out, too, for waves of backache, as some women find that this is where they feel their contractions.
Once labour has started, your contractions will become more regular and won't go away! When you are having a contraction every five minutes (and last 30-60 seconds), call your midwife, birth centre or hospital labour ward if you are giving birth there. If you have chosen a home birth, the midwife will come to youii.
If this is not your first baby, or you are likely to have a quick labour, your midwife may advise you to call earlier than this.
If you don't know whether you're in labour, phone the labour ward or your midwife. They are used to dealing with false alerts so don't worry.
- NICE (2014) Intrapartum care: care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth, Clinical guideline 190 p10, National Institute for Health and Care Excellencehttp://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg190/resources/guidance-intrapartum-care-care-of-healthy-women-and-their-babies-during-childbirth-pdf
Manage your anxieties about giving birth, with some helpful advice from mums who’ve been there.
The latent phase of labour… so what does this mean? Am I in labour or not?!
As well as your bags for the hospital, you need to have a few things at home for when your baby arrives.
At the end of your pregnancy, you may have some signs that your baby will arrive very soon, even though you may not go into labour for a little while yet.
Only a very small number of babies actually arrive on their due date and the membrane sweep is a drug-free way of helping to bring on labour.
The moment has arrived. Your contractions are regular and building up, and your baby is really on his or her way…
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.