How will I know when I am in labour?

Every woman’s labour will be different and will feel different to each woman. However, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for. Labour is broken up into three stages: pre-labour, early labour and active labour.

Early labour signs
  • Persistent lower back pain or abdominal pain, paired with a pre-menstrual feeling and cramps.
  • Painful contractions that occur at regular and increasingly shorter intervals, and become longer and stronger in intensity.
  • Broken waters. We suggest you call your maternity unit to let them know as soon as this happens.
  • A brownish or blood-tinged mucus discharge (bloody show). If you pass the mucus plug that blocks the cervix, labour could be imminent, or it could be several days away. It’s a sign that things are moving along.
  • An upset tummy or diarrhoea.
  • Mood swings.
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When should you call your midwife?

You and your midwife have probably discussed what to do when you think you’re in active labour. But if you’re not 100 per cent confident that this is what is happening, don’t be embarrassed to call. Midwives are used to getting calls from women who are uncertain if they’re in early labour or active labour, and who need guidance. It’s part of their job and are trained to know the difference between the signs and stages.

maternity & infant