Updated: Jul 16
Most babies will arrive somewhere between 37 and 42 weeks, but how do you know what the early signs of labour are? Here are some of the more common symptoms. You may experience all of them or none at all, however if your labour starts before 37 weeks, you are bleeding or experience less movement than normal, call your midwife or maternity unit.
1. Losing your mucus plug
Why does it happen? The mucus plug is a jelly like substance that stops any infection passing through the cervix to your baby. When the prostaglandins begin to soften the cervix, the plug gets dislodged.
What should you do? Nothing! Whilst this is a good sign, it does not mean that labour is imminent. The mucus plug may be blood tinged, if you notice a lot of blood call your midwife.
2. Experiencing nausea & diarrhoea
Why does it happen? Some women report feeling sick in labour. This is due to the gastrointestinal tract slowing down as all the energy is directed to the uterus. Some experience diarrhoea, due to the increase levels of prostaglandins in the body.
What should you do? Drink plenty of fluids and eat little & often if you can manage to.
3. Lower back ache
Why does it happen? Early labour pains can sometimes begin in the back. Over time you may feel them radiate around to the front of your bump & feel like strong period pains, which will begin to get longer, stronger & closer together.
What should you do? Rest, relax & breathe. Have a warm bath or use a warm compress to ease any discomfort.
4. Your waters breaking
Why does it happen? For most women (approx 90%) waters will break in labour due the pressure of the contractions. However for some, this can happen before your contractions start.
What should you do? Relax & wait for your contractions to kick in as it is likely they will follow soon. Keep an eye of how much water you are losing by wearing a maternity pad & what colour the waters are - they should be clear/yellowish in colour.