Signs of labour

For first time mums, labour can be a daunting thought. If you’ve never experienced labour before, it can be difficult to know when to call the midwife or doctor. Here are some telltale signs you are in labour and when to call your midwife.

Signs of Labour

How do I know I’m in labour?

Labour is different for every woman. It doesn’t all happen at once and is a staggered process. Here are some signs you will notice when you start your labour process.

  • Persistent lower back and abdominal pain
  • Contractions that are regular and increasing in intensity. The number of contractions will be increasing and becoming closer together.
  • A bloody show (a brownish or blood-tinged mucus discharge). The release of the mucus plug, whether in one go or an increase in discharge, does mean labour is on the way however could be hours or weeks away.
  • Broken waters. When your waters break, if this is combined with contractions, you are in labour. Without contractions you are not yet in labour.

When should I call my midwife?

If you an unsure you are in labour and are worried, pick up the phone and talk to your midwife. You’ll have probably discussed what to do if you think you’re in labour with them before but if you’re unsure, the best thing to do is to give them a call. They are used to women feeling uncertain and will quickly put you at ease.

Early labour can last hours, even days, before you are close to giving birth. During early labour, the best place to be is at home monitoring your contractions until you are in active labour. Early labour is when your cervix is dilated between 0 and 4cm and thereafter, active labour is 4cm+ dilation.

You’ll probably be told to come in when your contractions are regular, strong, about five minutes apart and lasting about 60 seconds.

Second, third, fourth etc babies come quicker than first babies so you may have to contact your midwife sooner.

You should contact your midwife or doctor when:

  • your waters break or you think you are leaking amniotic fluid
  • your think your baby is moving less than usual
  • you have vaginal bleeding, other than that of the discharge from the muscus plug
  • you are feverish, have a headache or blurred vision, or have abdominal pain

I have contractions, am I in labour?

Contractions set off alarm bells in every pregnant woman. However, this doesn’t always mean labour. Most pregnant women suffer from mild, irregular contractions throughout pregnancy known as Braxton Hicks contractions. These are different from labour contractions and do not mean labour.

Is labour on the way?

These signs mean labour could be just around the corner.

  • Needing to urinate more frequently
  • Eating more than usual
  • Breathing more heavily
  • An increase in frequency and intensity of Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Heavier and more mucous vaginal discharge
  • loose bowels

Where to now?

Tips on how to induce labourInduce Labour

Raspberry leaf tea during pregnancyRaspberry leaf tea

Photography: Eyeliam @Flickr

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