It’s important to know the early signs of labor so that you can alert the Health Care Professional you have chosen. Be in touch with them as soon as you recognise the signs and they will advise you on what to do.
Common early signs of labor:
- A “show” or mucous plug which is brown or pink in color. This mucous plug has been blocking the entrance to the womb and as the cervix starts to open so that baby can deliver – the mucus plug comes away.
- Pains in your womb. These are not like the Braxton Hicks tightenings you have been feeling through your pregnancy. These tightening are painful, starting off with just slight discomfort and increasing until nearer the time of your baby’s birth. The contractions/tightenings are regular, happening every 15 minutes apart, and decreasing in frequency til they are 2 minutes apart. They can last anywhere from 30 seconds to about 50 seconds. Contractions are measured from the start of one contraction to the start of the next. If you think you are in labor, then make a note of the time and how long the pain/tightening lasts. Keep in contact with your Doctor/Midwife and keep them updated as to how things are going.
- Your “waters” may break. The amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby is contained by layers called amnion and chorion – as the cervix opens up these membranes can rupture and the fluid escapes. Let your Doctor/Midwife know immediately if you think your membranes/waters have broken as you will need to get to hospital. Take a look at the fluid (you will need to put a sanitary pad in place) and see what the color is and also smell it. Amniotic fluid does not smell like urine (wee). Often expecting mothers confuse this with having no control over their bladder. When the membranes rupture, it is possible for the cord that connects to the baby, to come down – which is why it is why you need to let your Doctor/Midwife know what has happened. Once the membranes rupture – infection can now enter the uterus and could affect the baby, so your Doctor/Midwife will want your baby delivered within a certain period of time.
True labor is confirmed with vaginal examination which shows that the cervix is opening (dilating)
It is good if you can remain upright and mobile in early labor – but make sure you contact your Doctor/Midwife/Maternity Unit who will advise you what to do. Make sure your hospital bag is packed and that you get yourself to hospital if you can’t get hold of your Health Care Professional.
Report any signs of bleeding immediately to your Doctor/Midwife/Maternity Unit