As your due date approaches, every little niggle, every little cramp, and every little bit of wee that may escape when you sneeze have you questioning whether this is it – a sign that you’re going into labour.
That cramp – a contraction. That sneeze pee – it has to be the start of your waters breaking.
The start of labour is called the “latent phase”. It’s not nearly as intense as the next two phases – active labour and the transition. Basically, this phase involves your cervix becoming soft and thin and starting to open for bub to be born.
You will most likely be at home for this phase and it may take hours, or days even. It all depends.
While the beginning of labour will be different for every mum and every pregnancy, below are a few signs that labour is quickly approaching (so better pack that hospital bag!) or that you’ve entered the latent phase of labour (here we go!).
12 signs of labour
1. A burst of energy
Coupled with the strong desire to organise everything. Your Tupperware collection never looked so good. And your linen closet? Perfection!
This is known as the ‘nesting instinct’ and doesn’t always happen when labour is coming, but it can. It’s characterised as a strong burst of energy and desire to prepare for the baby’s arrival – to clean, to organise, to label, to do ALL the things.
2. The need to poop
This is a common feeling when you are about to give birth, but it can also happen in the lead-up to labour. Many mums will experience loose stools or diarrhoea in the upcoming days or hours before delivering.
3. The desire to sleep
Fatigue is also quite common in the 24-48 hours before birth.
4. Pets acting funny
Many mums report that in the days before labour, their pets wouldn’t leave them alone. If your furry friend is following you around and seems edgy or anxious, then this could be a sign that you’ll be making a trip to the hospital soon.
This one isn’t always that obvious because, well, you’re nine months pregnant. Of course, you’re going to feel edgy. You’ve probably been in a mood for the past four months, to be honest. However, you may also notice you’re feeling extra overwhelmed, anxious, teary or annoyed at everything.
6. Back pain
A backache can indicate that you’re at the start of the labour phase. The back pain is described as feeling “achy”.
7. Loose-feeling joints
As labour approaches, you may feel like your body is less tight and more relaxed. This is another sign that labour is coming very soon and nature’s way of opening up your pelvis for what’s to come.
8. Loss of mucus plug
Known as a “show”, this is when the mucus plug that keeps your cervix closed comes out. It can come out in one big sticky jelly-like blob, or in several parts. It will most likely have a pink tinge to it and can indicate that your cervix is starting to open.
9. Added pressure down there (but less in your belly)
This is due to the fact that your baby has dropped and, hopefully, is descending into the birth canal. This is known as “engagement” and, while it means you may not feel as much pressure in your ribs, you will feel it in your pelvis and bladder.
10. Crotch pain
In addition to the added pressure down below, you may also experience sharp, shooting nerve pain in your pelvis caused by your baby’s position. This is affectionately known as “lightning crotch”.
Cramping is one of the most common signs that labour is coming or that you are in the latent phase. However, cramps can come and go for days, even weeks, and it’s hard to know if it’s the real deal or just practice.
Cramping that indicates you’re getting closer feel like strong menstrual cramps. They probably don’t have a pattern to them but this comes soon. Many women will experience cramping during the night, only to wake up and the cramping be completely gone. Very frustrating, but very common.
If you’re having contractions that last anywhere from 30 to 70 seconds and don’t ease up even if you change position, you may be entering the active phase of labour.
12. Waters breaking
This can occur in a large gush or a small trickle when you’re in active labour or even when you’re not in labour yet. However, once your waters break, you will be having your baby in the next 48 hours or sooner, even if you haven’t experienced any contractions yet.
While there’s no formula that tells you the exact date and time you will go into labour, these signs can suggest you’ll be meeting your baby VERY soon. Good luck!
What to read next
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