In preparation for labour and childbirth, it is important to be aware of the signs in anticipation of the big day. Not only will it help your doctor in diagnosing and preparing your birthing plan, but it will also help you be aware of how you can prepare yourself.

Labour comes in stages and while the signs are similar for mums, they differ in intensities and duration.

The Stages Of Labour

Labour is categorised into 3 main stages; the latent and active stage, the delivery of the baby, and the delivery of the placenta. They all vary by duration and there is no average time for the women going through labour and childbirth.

  • The Latent And Active Stage

The Latent Stage is the dilation of the cervix until 3 centimetres. The Active Stage is the dilation from 3 centimetres until full dilation at 10 centimetres.

  • Delivery Of The Baby

This stage follows the process after full cervical dilation and follows the deliverance of the baby.

  • Delivery Of The Placenta

The placenta is only a temporary organ that the body creates to provide the necessary nutrients for the baby in the womb. After childbirth, you will also give birth to the placenta.

10 Signs of Labour

It is important to know when you are going through labour or just the practice labour. There are instances when you can mistake the two – the signs listed below will let you know when you are going through the real thing. The best thing to do is to await instructions from your obstetrician-gynaecologist and prepare for the hospital. Are you ready?

1. The Mucus Plug Appears

Also known as “The Bloody Show”, it is the mucus plug that protects your cervix from any infections. When you’re in labour, the cervix starts to dilate, loosening the mucus plug. It looks like white or greenish discharge.

In some cases, soon-to-be mothers have a pinkish or reddish touch to the discharge which gave its name – ‘the bloody show’. Especially during labour, this will stain your underwear.

2. Your Baby Starts To Move Less Before Labour And During Labour

There is no concrete explanation as to why this is the case, but some professionals say it is because of the lack of space for the baby to move. This is how the baby saves energy and gets ready for delivery.

3. Back Pain

It is usually a dull back pain that occurs at phases. They may happen during contractions and other loosening pain all over the body. Usually, it is masked by the urge to ‘push’.

4. The Baby Drops

It is not a noticeable sign since it happens a couple of weeks before the actual labour. The Drop is usually when the baby falls even lower to the pelvis of the mother.

5. Contractions

labour and childbirth

Contractions come in different waves for different mothers. Some say it’s like a stabbing pain, while others would describe it as menstrual cramps and tightening of the abdomen.

False contractions or Braxton Hicks are common symptoms in the last trimester of pregnancy. The only way to tell the difference is how infrequently Braxton Hicks contractions are. They happen once or twice in a stretched period. 

A real labour contraction would happen more intensely and more frequently within the day. Depending on the dilation of the cervix during labour, the contractions will start with an intense ache in the lower back, hugging your hips and pelvis to the front abdomen. You will know you are ready to push when the contractions start to become more frequent and less far apart.

6. Thinning Cervix

labour and childbirth

During your prenatal pelvic examination with your obstetrician-gynaecologist, you will know if your cervix is thinning. It will start weeks before childbirth and not only during labour since it would have to help the body adjust and prepare for delivery.

7. Cervix Dilation

labour and childbirth

Besides the thinning of the cervix, it also starts to dilate. The dilation is a more common sign of labour. This is when your cervix is starting to open and prepare your baby for birth. The dilation weeks before labour and childbirth will start at 1 centimetre and you are ready for delivery by 10 centimetres.

8. The Urge To Urinate

You will often think your baby is only kicking or punching you in the bladder, but that might not always be the case. It could be out of your baby’s control since there is no space to go around so your baby has no choice but to bump into your bladder.

9. The Urge To Poop

Some mothers say it’s like the urge to poop like you have diarrhoea. While it is more intense during labour, you can show signs of pre-labour by having a loose bowel from time to time. 

10. “I think my water just broke!”

It’s not as dramatic as the movies but it’s a trickle of water nonetheless. The amniotic fluid is odourless and colourless and you might even think it’s only urine. You’ll know it’s not urine when you smell it – it’s completely odourless and you will instantly know it’s your amniotic fluid dripping.

In A Nutshell…

The signs of labour and childbirth are helpful when you’re aware and well-informed about what you go through. While it may be different for mums-to-be, the knowledge of your doctors and other mums will be a good aid in preparing and going through labour and childbirth.

What preparations are you doing in anticipation of labour and childbirth? Share your tips with us!