How will I know I’m in labour?

How will I know I’m in labour?

Tell tale signs that your body is going into labour.

How will I know I’m in labour? It’s a common question and by no means a silly one. Midwives frequently receive calls from women who are uncertain if they’re in early labour or active labour, and who need advice. Everyone’s labour journey is different but overall there are three stages of labour: pre-labour, early labour and active labour.

PRE-LABOUR

How this unfolds will depend on whether this is your first child, how responsive you are to pain and how prepared you are for what labour will be like.

Pre-labour may include all, or just some, of the following changes to your body:

  • Lower back or abdominal pain along with cramps and a pre-menstrual feeling
  • Mild contractions
  • Broken waters – this may be a gush or just a trickle of clear water as the membranes rupture and release amniotic fluid
  • Mucus discharge which is brownish or bloody
  • An upset stomach or diarrhoea
  • Feelings of high emotion or moodiness
  • Poor sleep
  • The sudden urge to ‘nest’ such as clearing out cupboards and cleaning floors

 

EARLY LABOUR

At this stage symptoms will intensify. Early labour can be earmarked by the following changes to your body:

  • Baby begins to drop into position in the pelvis
  • Breathing becomes deeper
  • Appetite may increase
  • A need to urinate more often
  • Walking can be a struggle
  • Mild to moderate, or intensified, contractions
  • Heavier vaginal discharge
  • Mood swings
  • An increase in energy

 

ACTIVE LABOUR

Now for the hard work but the phase you will feel most proud of! Active labour will induce the following changes to your body:

  • Long and frequent contractions
  • Difficulty in speaking through contractions
  • A need to breathe or moan through each contraction
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or being sick, as the body clears its digestive system
  • Strong pressure in the lower back and rectum
  • Fatigue
  • Tightness in the throat and chest area
  • Shakiness, chills and/ or sweats caused by a sudden surge in hormones
  • More blood-tinged show as capillaries in the cervix rupture
  • Burning or stretching sensation in the perineum

If you are unsure whether or not you have gone into labour, contact your doctor or midwife for advice.

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