Are you getting close to your due date, or already well beyond it, and wondering when your baby will finally arrive?
There are lots of signs you can look out for that indicate labour might be about to get going!
First of all it’s important to say that absolutely every pregnancy and every lady is different. There are some people who may get every sign on this list, while others may be hit with their first contraction out of absolutely nowhere!
Remember that if you are feeling frustrated by the wait for your baby to arrive, it will happen! The baby has to come out eventually.
To help the time pass easier, you can try getting a few practical and fun things done. There are loads of ideas on this post for what you can do while waiting for baby to arrive.
So, let’s have a look at some signs that labour may be about to get started for you! You may experience just one or several of these.
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Listen to your body and always call your midwife if you have any concerns:
Lack of appetite
Many mothers-to-be may suddenly notice their appetite change as labour approaches.
You may feel less hungry than usual, or have particular cravings for unusual things. The lack of appetite may also be caused by nausea, which can often return in the final trimester.
It could be because of hormones or as your baby drops down in preparation for birth it may be playing havoc with your digestive system.
Whatever the cause, you may suddenly feel that you just don’t feel like finishing your dinner.
Try to keep eating little and often so that you keep up your strength. This is so important for your body, as it will be put under a lot of pressure during labour.
Urge to organise
The nesting instinct can kick in quite strongly as your body gears up for giving birth.
You might feel a strong urge to refold all of the baby clothes or double check your hospital bag 50 times in one day. Cleaning and doing laundry might also become compulsive for you!
This may just be your own desire to get ready for baby, or it can be a sign that your brain knows deep down labour is about to kick in!
Bloody show and losing your mucus plug
The bloody show as it can be known is a sign your cervix is softening and preparing to dilate for delivering your baby.
Separate to this, but something that may happen at the same time, your mucus plug covering your cervix may come away and you will notice it in your underwear or when you wipe.
This may happen over the course of a couple of days or just a few hours.
The mucus plug is quite thick in texture and may be tinged pink.
Once you see your mucus plug coming away, you might still be a few days from giving birth.
It can be easy to confuse your mucus plug with the normal discharge that you may experience throughout pregnancy. The difference will be it will be slightly thicker in texture and almost gel-like in appearance.
Your bloody show will not involve heavy bleeding. It will just be a small amount when you wipe yourself with tissue. If you do experience heavy bleeding, speak to a doctor, midwife or your local maternity ward immediately.
It could be that you are sick of being pregnant, or that you’re feeling a lot of discomfort, but if you find yourself feeling emotional and moody it could be that your labour is fast approaching.
Your hormone levels can impact your mood and these will be changing as your body prepares for labour.
Increased back pain
When your baby is preparing to arrive, they will “drop” downwards into the pelvis. This happens a couple of weeks or so before labour.
However it adds pressure to your pelvis and can also cause more discomfort in your lower back.
Braxton Hicks cramps might also cause you to experience back pain, much like period cramps do.
Braxton Hicks cramping is not the same as actual contractions, however their presence indicates that labour could be close to getting started.
OK, so this one might seem a bit daft. You are in your third trimester, so you are going to be feeling some discomfort.
However I recall on my final day of pregnancy how uncomfortable I felt. I was so uncomfortable I couldn’t stand to ride in the car and I just couldn’t find a position that I was happy in.
It’s not necessarily about feeling in pain,
Feeling like you need the toilet
When your baby drops down into your pelvis you may feel a lot more pressure on your bladder. You may find yourself dashing to the toilet, only to realise it’s a false alarm.
Don’t forget to keep drinking plenty of water, even though the constant trips to the loo are a bit of a pain.
The hormone relaxin is released into your body throughout pregnancy, which causes your joints to loosen.
This process can help your pelvis to stretch to accommodate your baby in the birthing canal when you are in labour.
In the final days of pregnancy you may notice that your joints feel particularly achy and loose as this process gears up for your labour.
Braxton hicks contractions may start a few weeks before you go into labour.
However these period-type pains may also be happening as a prelude to real contractions.
The difference between the Braxton Hicks contractions and real contractions are that actual contractions will feel stronger and last for longer. When you touch your bump during a contraction you will also feel your muscles have tightened.
Try to rest and relax during Braxton Hicks contractions in a position that supports your back.
Your bowels may become loose as you approach giving birth. I actually had horrendous diarrhoea during my first labour, which hit at the same time as my contractions did.
But you might experience this in the days before labour kicks in. This is due to hormones causing your muscles to relax to help your womb during labour, which can impact on the digestive system.
Don’t let it stop you from eating and drinking plenty of fluids.
Your pet is stalking you
Pets have a heightened sense for when something is about to happen. Call it a sixth sense, or an extra sensitive sense of smell, your pet may know that you’re about to give birth before you do!
If your cat or dog is particularly attentive to you, and follows you around your home a lot more than usual, it could be that they know something you don’t.
When to call your midwife or hospital
There are a few signs you need to be aware of which need urgent medical attention as you approach your due date.
If you experience any of the following, contact your midwife or local maternity ward:
- Baby is moving less
- You are bleeding
- Your waters break
- You are less than 37 weeks pregnant
I hope these tips will give you an idea of what to look for so you have an idea of when labour might be approaching!
You may also like to read:
What happens right after you give birth
Surviving the first eight weeks with your newborn