Baby development, Baby Facts, Parenting Essentials, Safety

What Are The Early Signs of Labour?

Pregnancy can feel like it lasts forever; a never ending combination of aches, sickness and general discomfort.  But before you know it, your due date arrives and with it, the labour.

Understandably, you’re itching to get things moving so you can meet your baby, but if you’re a first time mum, your first born is most likely to be overdue. It’s therefore important to be able to spot the initial signs of labour, so you can take necessary action or more importantly, to save you a wasted trip to the hospital if it’s a false alarm.


Lady with baby bump


What are the early signs of labour to be aware of?

For up to a week before the birth, you might start to notice some early symptoms such as:

– A boost in energy and proactivity, for example feeling the need to clean everything and everywhere. This is commonly known as nesting and is also tied to your mothering instincts

– Increased vaginal discharge that is clear

– Mucus in your underwear or on your pad – this is the plug that blocks up the cervix. When it starts to come away, your body is preparing for delivery. You might notice that this is streaked with a little blood, which is perfectly common

– Abdominal contractions or more increased backache

– Having loose bowels or an upset stomach

– Disrupted sleep and a mixed emotional state


When should you call a midwife or labour ward?

As you get closer to your due date, your midwife should give you a rough idea as to what to do when you think you are in labour, as all counties have a different procedure, however as a rough guide in the UK, you should make contact:

If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant, call your midwife if you believe you are having contractions AND:

– Have a bloody vaginal discharge and/or

– Have a watery discharge and/or

– Have cramping or lower back pain

These could be signs that you are going into premature labour and you need medical attention.

If you are more than 37 weeks pregnant, call for medical help if:

– You haven’t noticed your baby moving or his movements have slowed down

– You believe your waters have broken

– You have unexpected bleeding

If in any doubt, it is advisable to contact a medical professional who will be able to give further information and help. Labour can go on for a very long time, sometimes days, so it is important to not contact the hospital before it is necessary to do so.

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