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All about Labour

How will I know I am in labour?

Labour is different for every woman, and pinpointing when it begins is not really possible. It is more a process than a single event. A number of changes in your body work together to help deliver your baby.

If you are really in labour, one or more of the following changes will occur:

You may have persistent lower back pain, often accompanied by a crampy, premenstrual feeling.

You will have contractions at regular and increasingly shorter intervals, and they will become longer and stronger in intensity.

You may find yourself using the toilet more. Some women need to empty their bladder, others their bowels, or both.

You may have a bloody show which is a brownish or blood-tinged mucus discharge. If you pass the mucus plug that blocks the cervix, or neck of the womb, labour could be imminent. It might be several days away but this is a sign that things are moving along.

Your waters may break with a gush, or they may leak.

Your cervix will become thinner and softer (also called effacement) and may dilate up to 10 cms.

When should I call the midwife?

You would have already talked to your midwife about what to do when you think you are in labour. Often just the tone of your voice can be an indicator to the midwife.

You should also contact your midwife if:

  • Your waters break, or if you suspect you are leaking amniotic fluid.
  • Your baby is moving less than usual.
  • You have any vaginal bleeding.
  • You have fever, severe headaches, changes in your vision or abdominal pain.

What should I do in early labour?

Your bag will already be packed and arrangements made for your trip to hospital, so just try to rest. When labour does set in it is important to drink plenty of fluids. Alternate between walking and resting. Try taking a warm bath to ease any pains. Keeping calm and relaxed will help your labour to progress and help you cope with the contractions.