Knowing what to expect in labour will help keep you relaxed on the big day. Whether it is your
1st birth or 4th birth, each is different and unique. Here are the true signs and red herrings!
THE SHOW – this is a mucous plug that seals the cervix in pregnancy. As your body is preparing for birth the plug can come away. The show is a sticky, jelly-like mucus. It looks a little like ‘snot’! It can come away in one blob, or in several pieces when wiping. It can look pink in colour or may have flex of blood in it, this is normal. However, this is NOT a sign that labour is starting immediately. The show can come away 2 weeks, 2 days or during labour.
BABY HEAD ENGAGES – This means your baby’s head is lowering into your pelvis, getting in the right position for labour. This doesn’t mean labour is just around the corner. With a 1st pregnancy most babies will engage from 36 weeks. If you have had a baby before your baby may not engage before birth.
BACKPAIN – you can experience this is early labour with period-like pains. Try and stay relaxed and rest if you can.
CONTRACTIONS – this is the true sign that the labour has started, you are on the way to meeting your baby. Contractions are when your uterus begins to tighten and then relax. Your tummy tightens and you can have period-like pains. The contraction will ease and your tummy softens allowing you to recover. They start irregularly and over time become more regular and intense. A good rule of thumb is when your contractions are every 5 mins apart, lasting 60 seconds. This is when you are in ‘established’ labour and should call your midwife.
WATERS BREAKING – this is when the amniotic sac around your baby breaks, it can be a small trickle or gush. Your waters may break before or during labour but it is important that you call your maternity unit and let them know.