Are You There Yet? 6 Clear Signs That Mean You're Going Into Labour

Are You There Yet? 6 Clear Signs That Mean You're Going Into Labour


This is it! It's been 9 months. Is your baby coming anytime soon? How will you know if it's time? Just look out for these signs.

Is It Time To Call The Doctor Yet?

I tipped my toe to reach for the top shelf in the kitchen when I felt a striking pain across my lower belly.

I felt lightheaded, as waves of cramps ran through my belly in a span of seconds.

I held on to the chair beside me for support as I felt warm air leaving my nostrils.

“Am I in labour or is this what they call Braxton Hicks contractions?” I asked myself as I got up to leave to the hospital.

Two hours later I was sent back home by the doctor. He called it a false alarm.

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Getting Ready For Delivery

Labour is different for every woman, obviously. Some women go through labour longer than others, some foetuses are positioned differently, and some will just be bigger than the rest. Every mother goes on a birth process that’s unique to her body, but every pregnant woman’s journey begins at the same place: the labour pains.

Chances are that you may work out when your labour truly began only after you've been through it! Like a lot of pregnant moms, you're probably wondering how you'll know for sure that you're in labour. Your body goes through changes during the days leading up to early labour and these will cause some tell-tale signs and symptoms that will tell you it’s time. Look out for these clear signs of labour that tell you your little one's on the way.

You have spent nine months waiting for this moment. That’s about 273 days spent looking for signs from your child inside you. Every kick, each prenatal visit - you watched your little one grow bigger through a series of ultrasound pictures. And now, the moment is here — you’re entering the first phase of childbirth.

Now, keep in mind, there is always a chance of false alarm in the days leading up to real labour. Braxton Hicks contractions aka ‘practice contractions’ confuse many expectant mothers. Couple that with a leaky pregnancy bladder and things begin to get more confusing. However, get ready to get to the hospital if you:

• Feel a persistent lower back pain or abdominal pain2

You know you’re in labour when you feel the pain radiating at your lower back first, and it gradually starts moving toward the front, engulfing your abdomen. With false labour, you will usually feel that pain around your lower belly only3.

• Experience painful contractions

Your pre-labour contractions will generally be weak and remain so before they die out. They start out strong initially but reduce over time. But real labour contractions steadily increase in strength as time passes by. They will surely grow consistently longer, stronger, and closer together and will be rhythmic.4 But watch out for any significant changes in intensity. Because, strong, regular contractions can also hit you with little to no warning at all.

• Your water breaks

Your child is surrounded by a protective, fluid-filled sack called the amniotic sac, which ruptures just before the time your child is ready for birth. You will experience fluid leaking from your vagina. It could be a gush or just start with a leak, but once it starts, you can't stop it.

• Have a reddish or blood-tinged mucus discharge aka “the bloody show”5

Always watch out for little, but sure changes in mucus discharge. The surest signal to watch out for is when you lose your mucus plug — it has been protecting your uterus from infections from the outside world. A mucus plug will look like the mucus in your nose that may fall out in chunks or as a single large piece.

• Feel that your baby has ‘dropped’6

If you feel that your child’s position has obviously moved lower in the uterus, and you begin to feel a sense of relief as you can breathe more easily. Again, some women are lucky to experience this several weeks before delivery while some fetuses drop only a few hours before labour begins. This is also known as “lightening”.

When Should I Call My Doctor?

The number one thing to remember as you approach full term is to not be shy to call for help. Don't be embarrassed to call your doctor/midwife if you suspect you’re going into labour.

Your doctor may ask you about how frequent your contractions are. Although it's not always possible for them to accurately judge whether active labour has started over the phone. Trust your instincts on when you think it's the right time to leave the house.

You may find it harder to move as your contractions get stronger and become more frequent. Getting from your front door into your car may take more time than usual.

Keep calm and relaxed to cope with your labour pain. By doing this, you will be helping your body to release oxytocin, a hormone which will tremendously help you when you progress through labour. Go for a walk, drink a refreshing drink or ask a loved one to stick around and keep you company. Basically, try and get some rest to prepare you for the work ahead.7

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“It’s about being calm and breathing gently. Instead of pushing the baby out, it’s breathing the baby down. Your body naturally contracts and pushes the baby out. That’s what labour is.”

- Jessica Alba, American actress

The Pain Is Temporary Until You Meet Your Little One

In the days leading up to my delivery, all my thoughts have given way to hope and joy.

I’m excited to know that my happy and healthy little one will meet me soon.

Labour pains are painful. But I look at it as a true labour of love. Today, I celebrate the beauty of labour and the triumphant feeling of achieving a safe childbirth – a feat no less to a miracle and nature’s biggest gift to mankind.

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2Preterm (Premature) Labor and Birth,

3False labour

4Diagnosing onset of labor: a systematic review of definitions in the research literature

5Patterns and predictors of vaginal bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy

6Prepared Childbirth: The Family Way and Prepared Childbirth: The Educator's Guide, Labor Begins on Its Own

7WHO recommendations for augmentation of labour;jsessionid=3F3B318EFA CDE409E59F72AB7F5B2B83?sequence=1

MAL.2022.33553.SIM -SMM.1

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