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Am I in labour?

Bringing a new life into the world is an incredible experience. As the due date approaches, every pregnant woman eagerly awaits the onset of labour and 'am I in labour?' is a common thought to have as your body prepares for birth. For first time mums, it can be daunting waiting for the start of labour and/or recognising the signs and symptoms of being in labour. In this blog post, we will discuss ten common indications that you may be in labour. Remember, every pregnancy is unique so you may not experience all of these signs and symptoms, or you may experience them at different times or in different orders.

1. Regular and Increasing Contractions:

One of the most prominent signs of labour is regular and increasingly intense contractions. These contractions will become more frequent, longer, and stronger over time. They typically occur at regular intervals and persist despite changes in activity or position. Use a stopwatch to time the contractions and if contact your midwife when they occur consistently, about five minutes apart.

2. Waters Breaking:

Another common sign of labour is the rupture of the amniotic sac, commonly known as "waters breaking." It can happen as a sudden gush or a slow trickle of fluid. This fluid is typically clear and odourless. However, if the fluid appears green or brown, it could indicate meconium - the baby's first stool - and you should contact your midwife immediately.

3. Bloody Show:

A "bloody show" refers to the discharge of a small amount of blood-tinged mucus from the cervix. This occurs as the cervix begins to dilate and is a positive indication that labour is near. However, if you experience heavy bleeding or have concerns, consult your midwife.

4. Lower Back Pain and Pelvic Pressure:

As labour progresses, you may experience lower back pain and pelvic pressure. These sensations are caused by the baby's descent into the birth canal. If you find the pain to be increasingly intense and rhythmic, it could be a sign that labour is underway. This can often occur before intense contractions; however, everyone is different and you may experience this at any point.

5. Increased Frequency of Urination:

In the final stages of pregnancy, the baby's head can put pressure on the bladder, leading to increased frequency of urination. However, when labour is imminent you may notice even more frequent trips to the bathroom as the baby's head engages further into the pelvis.

6. Diarrhoea or Upset Stomach:

Some women experience diarrhoea or an upset stomach shortly before labour begins. Hormonal changes and the body's preparation for childbirth can cause these symptoms. Keep yourself hydrated and inform your midwife if you notice any persistent changes in bowel movements. This is often referred to as 'a clear-out' and it can help to make room as baby descends.

7. Nesting Instinct:

The "nesting instinct" refers to a sudden burst of energy and the urge to clean, organise, or prepare your home for the baby. This surge in energy is often observed in the days leading up to labour. While it may be tempting to overexert yourself, remember to rest and conserve energy for the upcoming childbirth. A lot of women will experience this urge at different points in their pregnancy, so don't worry if it's early and you start feeling the need nest.

8. Loss of Appetite:

In the final stages of pregnancy, some women experience a decreased appetite as the body prepares for labour. The hormonal changes and physical discomfort can lead to a lack of interest in food. However, it is crucial to maintain proper nutrition and consult your midwife if you have any concerns. Having a selection of food and snacks prepared can help as you never know what might interest you at the time.

9. Intuition and Emotional Changes:

Many women report a heightened sense of intuition and emotional changes as labour approaches. You may feel a mixture of excitement, anxiety, or a strong sense that the baby's arrival is imminent. Pay attention to your instincts and discuss any emotional concerns with your support network.

10. Cervical Changes:

As labour approaches, the cervix begins to dilate (open) and efface (thin out). While these changes are not readily noticeable to you, your midwife CAN assess them during a pelvic examination, however this is completely your choice. It is good to note that whilst vaginal examinations (VE's) will be offered to you, they are never mandatory and can only tell you what is happening at that exact moment in time.

Knowing and recognising the signs and symptoms of labour can help you prepare for the arrival of your little one. Remember that each woman's experience is unique, and the onset of labour may vary. If you notice any of these signs or have concerns, contact your midwife for guidance and reassurance.

Warwickshire Antenatal Classes

Did you know that we offer two types of Antenatal Classes? A full 5 week evening Antenatal Course and a liter version held one weekend day per month. In our Antenatal courses we support you to recognise the signs and symptoms of labour and give you coping strategies to support you in your labour and birth. Click below to find upcoming classes and book today.


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