You’ve been waiting months and the anticipation builds as you await the most exciting moment of pregnancy, labour. As your due date draws closer, you might find yourself wondering, “how do I know when I’m ready for labour?” Well, the truth is, your body will be preparing for labour for weeks before your baby is born. Despite this, different women have varying symptoms, but there are some common signs to look out for that will let you know your baby is on its way.
Labour is the most exciting moment of pregnancy, but how do you know when it’s coming? In the weeks leading up to the main event, there are some signs that may be able to give you a bit of a picture about when your baby is due. Here’s what to look out for.
Braxton Hix Contractions
Braxton Hix Contractions are practice contractions and feel kind of like your stomach is tightening and relaxing again. It’s basically your body warming up for the big event and they begin to start from about 24 weeks. Towards the end of labour, they are likely to be more intense and more frequent which is a sign that your baby might be on its way!
Losing Your Mucous Plug
A mucous layer near the cervix protects your baby from pathogens, however, when the cervix begins to dilate you can lose this layer. It can happen weeks before you give birth, or it can happen on the day, and some women don’t notice it at all. It usually comes in the form of a discharge called a ‘show’, which is usually pinkish, or clear with streaks of blood.
Your Baby Drops
A few weeks before labour, your baby will reposition itself ready for birth. In ideal situations it will rotate headfirst and be situated low in your pelvis, putting pressure on the bladder. This may mean that you require more frequent trips to the bathroom. If your baby is in ‘breech’ position, it means that its legs are forward, which may make birth difficult, however, there are many things your obstetrician can do in this situation to assist.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, you’ll probably find that you experience cramps in your lower back and groin as your baby moves its way into position. At this stage, your muscles and joints will be stretching to make labour easier.
Although some areas may experience cramping, others are likely to relax, due to the hormone Relaxin, which causes ligaments and muscles to loosen up in preparation for labour. Diarrhoea, though unpleasant, is a good sign that this is starting to happen.
Your Water breaks
Amniotic fluids surround your baby in the womb and are held in place by a bag-like membrane. When this bag burst, your water has broken, and it’s usually a good sign that labour is on its way. Despite this, your water can break a few days before labour, and it’s usually not as dramatic as the movies. If you think your water has broken, even if it’s just a trickle, you should contact your midwife as soon as possible.
If you think you’re coming up to labour or would like to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.