What are the signs of labour?

Not knowing whether they are in labour or not is a common worry for first-time mums, but once labour really gets going you'll definitely know.

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.

Read more about your body preparing for labour

Sources

  1. 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
Hide details

Read more

Last reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.

Was this information useful?

Yes No

Comments

Your comment

Add new comment