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Signs of labour

Here are some key signs to look out for that you are in labour

The signs of labour to look out for

Whether it's a show, your waters break or lower back pain, there a number of signs that will let you know you are in labour

At a glance

  • The first signs of labour can differ from woman to woman
  • Once your contractions start, call your midwife
  • Take a bath or go for a walk to pass the time as it can be a long wait

Signs of labour backache

You will probably notice a few changes in the later stages of your pregnancy, which are all pre-cursor signs to labour starting – you might have more vaginal discharge, an urge to nest, and more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions. Your back might be aching more than usual as your baby goes right down into your pelvis.

First signs of labour

The first signs of actual labour, or early labour, can differ from woman to woman below are some of the more common signs of labour you may experience:

A 'show' – Your 'show' will be a pink and jelly-like – it might come away as one blob, or in several pieces. It is perfectly normal to lose a little bloody mucus along with it – although if you are bleeding more than this, contact your midwife straight away.

Waters break – This may come in the form of a trickle or a gush of amniotic fluid. You should call your midwife and let her know when this happens.

Lower back pain – You may experience lower back pains similar to a pre-menstrual cramp

The main signs, are considered to be strong, regular contractions along with a 'show'. If you’re experience these signs of labour, you’re very likely past the early stages and into active labour.

When your waters break

If your waters break before your labour starts, phone your midwife for advice as there can be a risk of infection once the water surrounding your baby has gone.  Some women feel the 'pop' as their waters break, and you might experience their loss either as a full on gush or just a little trickle. Either way, it is a sure sign that your baby is on their way.


If you start having contractions it’s useful to time them before you contact your midwife, so she can assess what stage of labour you’re at. Midwives can tell a lot by talking to you on the phone in early labour (from your breathing, voice etc) and if you are planning a hospital birth, she will probably suggest you stay at home until your contractions are coming frequently and your labour is established.

She may suggest you go into hospital for an assessment, but even then, you might find you end up back at home until labour really kicks in. It can be a real waiting game so if you can, try and pass the time by doing something you love, take a bath or go for a walk (if you can manage it.)

At a glance

  • The first signs of labour can differ from woman to woman
  • Once your contractions start, call your midwife
  • Take a bath or go for a walk to pass the time as it can be a long wait
The main signs of labour are strong, regular contractions along with a 'show'

Signs of labour

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