Labour & Delivery

Early Labour Signs: Am I in Labour?

Being pregnant can be a confusing time. Early labour signs can be tricky and you can sometimes feel like you’ve had a few false starts.

Stop wondering and know what to look for. Here’s the big list of early labour signs that signal your baby is definitely on their way!

You’ve been waiting for this day for months – your baby’s birth! But now that it’s getting close, how will you know if you are actually in labour or if its just another false start? Early labour signs are a great way to guide what’s really going on but of course, if you’re unsure always seek advice of your healthcare professional.

Here’s the big list of early labour signs – how many can you check off mumma?

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Early labour signs in the weeks before you give birth 

In the weeks before your baby is born, you might notice some of the following early signs.

  • Your baby drops. Nope, this does not mean your baby will drop right out. (Oh if ONLY it were that easy!) It actually means that your baby has made its way down into your pelvis, kind of finding its way towards the exit doors.
  • Welcome to the waddles. As your baby gets into position, usually with the head down low in your pelvis, you will feel like you are waddling more than ever! Think of walking with a small watermelon between your legs and you’ll have an idea of what this feels like.
  • Uncos. You might feel a bit clumsy, as your ligaments and joints loosen and relax. It’s a sign that your body is getting ready to open up your pelvis to make room for your little one to arrive.
  • Plenty of pooping. It’s not just your pelvis that relaxes as your body gets ready to give birth. So do other muscles in your body, including your rectum. This can lead to diarrhoea. No one ever said it would be glamorous! But it’s a good early labour sign that your baby might be on its way.
  • And peeing. With your baby down low, they are going to be pushing on your bladder more than ever, meaning lots of trips to the bathroom. On the upside, you might breathe a bit easier as your baby moves down away from your lungs.
  • Cramps. You might have cramps and pain in your groin and lower back, as everything starts moving and stretching ready to give birth. This is more common when it isn’t your first pregnancy. You may also feel Braxton Hicks, which are like practice contractions.
  • Less weight gain. If you stop gaining weight at the very end of your pregnancy, it can be a sign that baby’s birth might not be far away. It’s due to lower levels of amniotic fluid – and all that extra peeing!
  • Exit doors opening. As your body gets ready to give birth, your cervix may start to open (dilate) and thin (efface). Your health care provider may keep an eye on this and let you know that the exit doors are getting ready to open.
  • Bloody show. You might notice thicker, pinkish vaginal discharge in the days before you go into labour, which is called the bloody show. However, if you notice bleeding or bright red discharge, seek medical help immediately.

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Signs that your labour is actually starting RIGHT NOW

So you’ve noticed a few of the above labour signs and think that your baby might be arriving soon. So exciting! Here are the signs to watch for that labour is starting, and you will soon meet your new little one.

  • Contractions. The first sign for many mums that labour is starting is when contractions start, as your uterus muscles start tightening, getting ready to push your baby out. Contractions feel like strong menstrual cramps or strong pressure in your lower abdomen or lower back.
  • Unplugged. You might notice the loss of a mucous plug, which is what seals your uterus, a sure sign that labour isn’t far away!
  • Water works. Your water breaking is another sign that labour is underway. But don’t wait for this one, as it’s often one of the last signs mum’s experience, and can happen at the last minute as your baby arrives! And remember to seek medical help straight away if the fluid looks green or brown as it can mean that your baby’s first poo, called meconium, is in the amniotic fluid, which can be dangerous for your little one.

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Waiting to meet your baby is such an exciting time! While you count down the minutes for that very special birthday, take care of yourself. Sleep as much as you can and enjoy your last pre-baby days. Now is a great time to check out our guide for mums-to-be who have no clue what they’re doing! And to make sure you’ve packed all those essentials for your hospital stay.

Here’s to a safe delivery and meeting your little one very soon! If you are unsure about being in labour or have concerns that you could be in premature labour please seek medical advice immediately.

Avatar of Kerry Rosser

I love my three country kids - and all things writing! Like most mums, I wear lots of hats - writer, children's author, organisational psychologist and the pairer of the odd socks!

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