Recognising labour isn’t always easy, and if you’re a first-time mom this may be one of your biggest concerns. While some women experience very distinct signs of labour, others don’t.
These signs will help you to identify the onset of labour
These symptoms don’t occur in any particular order, and several may occur within the same day or within a few days of each other.
- When your baby drops, you’ll experience a heavy feeling in your pelvis with pressure on your bladder, and you may feel the need to urinate more frequently. This is called lightening and can occur a few weeks or a few hours before labour.
- A blood-tinged mucous discharge. The mucus plug accumulates at the cervix during pregnancy, and when the cervix begins to thin and relax, this plug is expelled and releases a clear, pink, or slightly bloody discharge into the vagina. According to The American Pregnancy Association this can happen minutes, hours or even days before the onset of labour.
- A sudden spurt of energy.
- If your waters break. This can happen in a small gush, making everything around you wet, or it could trickle out slowly. “Only 1 in 10 woman experience a dramatic gush of amniotic fluid”, says The American Pregnancy Association. When your waters break, it should be clear and watery, or it could be mixed with a little bloody mucus, making it slightly pink. When this happens, often you’ll experience a constant flow of water – more when you’re moving, standing up or after a contraction. This is normal. Read more about what to do when your waters break here.
- Regular contractions. “These might begin as back pain or lower pelvic cramping but will gradually become stronger, more regular, closer together and increase in length from about 20 seconds initially to about 69 seconds just before baby is born,” explains Sister Lilian in her book Sister Lilian’s Pregnancy and Birth Companion. True labour contractions won’t stop when you change your position or relax, unlike Braxton Hicks contractions. Call your doctor when you start experiencing contractions and they don’t stop when you change your position.