Signs of Labour

By the 38th week of pregnancy your baby is considered full term and labour could begin any day now. As your due date grows near you are bound to feel lighter once your baby drops down into your pelvis. This will, however mean an increase in the the number of times you need to go pee since your soon-to-be baby’s head is pressing against your bladder. You might also feel a sudden urge to nest. Nesting is when you have the uncontrollable need to get everything in the house organized in preparation for your baby. This restlessness for example, might even cause you to wake up in the middle of the night to organize your baby’s clothes.

Unfortunately, labour and child birth is nothing like the story we tell our kids of a stork to coming to our doorstep to gift us with a precious little baby, which if you think about it is a good thing otherwise the world would be overpopulated.


Labour for first time mothers could take a long time while mothers who have given birth before might go through the process a lot faster. It is important to talk with your doctor before your due date arrives to establish when s/he will like you to begin your journey to the hospital. This will depend on (among other things) if this is your first baby, if you have experience any complications during your pregnancy and your distance from the hospital.

1) Diarrhea
One of the early signs of labour is a loosened bowl movement caused by your body’s muscles loosening up in preparation for labour and childbirth.

2) Bloody Show
You might notice a brownish or blood-tinged mucous substance on your panty known as a bloody-show. This is usually your mucus plug which helped seal your cervix during pregnancy. It may come out as a single piece or in tiny portions which is usually an indicator that your cervix has begun opening.

3) Contractions:
Contractions help push your baby further down your pelvis as well as open your cervic (the passage from your uterus) to allow for your little one to pass through. Unlike the Braxton Hicks contractions (false contractions) actual contractions will be regular and stronger with each new contraction. They often start from your back moving forward and are bound to last more than 30 seconds long and will not subside with movement. If you begin to feel this then it is important that you call your doctor to establish when you should begin your journey to the hospital.

If your contractions last for about a minute and are 5 minutes apart then it could mean that your baby will arrive anytime now.

4) Water breaks:
Movies might have lead you to believe that the only sign of labour beginning is your water breaking which will happen as a sudden flood in the most public of places. While this is one of the signs of labour, it is important to note that some women go into labour without their water breaking and hence have this ‘broken’ by the doctor in the hospital. Alternatively, there are women whose water breaks first but this could be a slow trickle of fluid and not the ‘Indian Ocean’ so to speak.

Your water breaking is basically your amniotic sac which held your baby for the past 9 months rupturing and releasing the amniotic fluid contained inside. Should your water break it is important to call your doctor right away as your baby is now prone to infection.

As mentioned earlier, it is important to establish with your doctor any potential warning signs s/he will like you to look out for and when you should begin your journey to the hospital. However, below are a few things you need to contact your doctor, midwife and/or hospital on should they appear:
1) If your water breaks.
2) If your water breaks and it has a bad smell and a strange colour.
3) If you begin to have a lot of vaginal bleeding.
4) If your baby stops moving or moves less frequently than usual.
5) If you can’t stop vomiting.
6) If you have a sever headache, your vision changes and swelling in your face, hands and feet.
7) If you feel a sudden and uncontrollable urge to push.

When you arrive at the hospital the nurse will perform the below checks (and probably a few others) to establish the well being of you and your baby. These checks will be repeated regularly to establish the progress of your labour and spot out any red flags early enough.
1) S/he will take your temperature, blood pressure and possibly even conduct a urine test.
2) S/he will check how much your cervix has dilated (opened) to establish how far along your are in labour.
3) S/he will check your baby’s heart rate and position.

family-1139096_960_720Labour can be a grueling process especially for first time mothers. If anyone tells you that they didn’t feel pain, unless they had an epidural (a pain reliever given through the spine to numb the lower part of the body) they are lying. The important thing to do is stay calm bearing in mind that this will all be over soon and you get to meet your angel, stay active by taking a walk around the labour ward, drink plenty of fluids and if your up to it eat some food or a snack to keep your energy levels up. You could also ask your partner to rub your lower back to help relieve the pain of the contractions. Some breathing exercises or a warm shower/bath if possible might also help you cope with the same. It’s important we mention that if you are going to take a walk around the labour ward make sure you have someone to accompany you since contractions, especially if you have been induced, can be a bit overwhelming.

Do you have any useful tricks you used to help relieve your labour pains that haven’t been mentioned here? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Want more articles like this one?

Subscribe and get similar articles from MamaMzazi that make the journey of motherhood a little easier straight to your email