How to tell if your labour has started
All mums-to-be worry if they’ll know for sure when their baby’s on the way. Remove all doubt with these 10 fail-safe signs…
During pregnancy, a mucus plug sits at the neck of your cervix and protects your uterus by helping to keep out infections. It’s a blob of phlegm-like jelly, usually the size of a 20 cent coin, which is frequently pale but can sometimes be stained with blood. The plug may come away when you’re urinating (in which case you’ll probably just notice a streak of blood), or you may find it in your pants. This can be a sign that labour is on its way and is called ‘having a show’. You can lose the mucus plug a few hours to a week before labour begins, in one big piece or just gradually, bit by bit.
As you enter labour, your breasts will start to swell. Your nipples will become tender and more responsive and you might feel a tingling sensation. This is your body getting ready to breastfeed your baby. You may also notice a leaking of colostrum from your nipples in the weeks before birth. This clear fluid is packed full of antibodies and is designed to help protect your baby, through her first feeds, when she finally emerges into the world.
A pain in your back can be a sign that your baby is rotating into the right position for labour. This can take a few days and might be quite painful. It can also be due to the ligaments in your pelvis relaxing, to allow your baby the room to fit through.
By the time labour starts, your baby will also have dropped, with her head downwards, into the start of your birth canal. This causes physical pressure on your back, which can also make it ache.
Backache can also herald the start of contractions, as some women experience them more in their back than in their stomach. Try a heat pack or warm shower to help ease back pain.