7 Signs That Labour is Near
Updated 10-03-2021 – Lucy Walters
Your pregnancy’s last few weeks are the most exciting milestones of your motherhood journey. Those final weeks mean it is not too long before you finally get to meet your precious little one. By this stage, you may already be waiting for the popular labour signs that people tell you about – your water breaking and those notorious labour pains.
But did you know there are more subtle signs that could indicate labour might be coming soon? If you don’t, that’s fine. We will briefly go through it with you below. Remember, however, that not all women and pregnancies are the same, so you may or may not experience any or all of these signs. It’s always a good idea to know what you might be facing, nonetheless.
You feel Braxton Hicks contractions.
Braxton Hicks contractions are also known as practice contractions. According to the NHS, Braxton Hicks is a feeling of your bump tightening, which can last for around 20 to 30 seconds, followed by your muscle relaxing again. The difference from true contractions is that Braxton Hicks are painless (although they can get uncomfortable), irregular, and infrequent. In case you feel pain, or when the contractions come at regular intervals, contact your healthcare provider and let them know.
You experience the “show”.
The show is a pink-tinged vaginal discharge seen during the later stages of pregnancy. Some women have it, some don’t, while some just fail to notice it.
This discharge is actually mucus plug that has dislodged from your cervix. The pink colour is because it is stained with blood, which is completely normal. When you become pregnant, your body’s natural defence mechanism creates this plug to protect your womb and your developing baby, from contracting any infection. It pretty much seals and protects your baby inside the womb. Dislodging this plug is one of your body’s ways of preparing for childbirth.
If you do experience the show, you should remember that it can take anywhere from hours to days before your labour actually begins.
If, however, the discharge is a lot and it is more reddish in nature, or the plug comes before your 37th week, or you are worried for any reason, it is always best to contact your healthcare provider immediately for their advice.
The last trimester of your pregnancy is the most uncomfortable, and you probably felt a bit of difficulty breathing. This is mainly due to the growing baby putting pressure on your diaphragm. The good news is, as labour nears, your baby drops down, and you will feel lighter and easier to breathe. This is called lightening in healthcare terminology.
Back pain or discomfort.
You would have already felt a lot of back pain during the course of your pregnancy. However, as the baby drops and pressure is relieved off your diaphragm, the baby now puts pressure along the lower portion of your body, and effectively your back. This can cause lower back pain or simply just a discomfort.
Your energy level changes
Although felt at any part during the pregnancy, some women feel extra tired just before labour and delivery. On the other hand, a lot of women feel a sudden boost of energy just before labour commences. Some even do the popular “nesting” – where you suddenly have the urge to clean the house, fix the nursery, pack and repack the hospital bag, and pretty much do the final preparations for the arrival of the baby. Nesting can happen at any point during the pregnancy, too, but most women experience this just before labour kicks in.
Your baby becomes less active.
Some babies can become a bit less active during the later stages of pregnancy when labour is about to happen. However, please remember, your baby must STILL BE MOVING at least a couple of times an hour during this stage. If you feel like your baby moves less than this, or hasn’t moved at all, contact your healthcare provider URGENTLY.
Your water breaks.
Perhaps your water breaking is the most obvious sign that labour is impending. It certainly is the most popular sign. We put this sign last on our list as most expectant mums experience their water breaking during labour. However, some women have their waters break even before labour starts.
Contrary to the bucketful of water that we see coming out of pregnant women’s legs on TV, your water breaking actual feels more like a trickle or sudden gush of fluid, an uncontrollable leak from your vagina, or it can be as simple as feeling extra dampness on your pads or underwear.
Inform your midwife or healthcare provider as soon as you feel your waters break.
There you go, seven signs that labour is just around the corner. Be mindful that these signs come in no particular order, and again, we need to emphasise that not all women experience any or all of these symptoms.
Aside from our notes above of when to call your healthcare provider, if at any point you feel worried, have any concerns, or feel like labour has begun despite the lack of the above signs, the best thing to do is to get in contact with your midwife or healthcare provider.
Because no pregnancy nor woman is the same, your healthcare provider knows you and your medical and pregnancy history very well, which means they are the best people to give you tailored advice appropriate for your individual circumstances.
Before these signs even kick in, check to see that your hospital bag is ready and that you’ve got all you need. After that, put your feet up and allow yourself to relax. You are doing a great job. You are nearly there. A few more nights of sleep, and you finally get to meet your precious little one!
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