If you’re pregnant, the day you look forward to the most is probably the day you finally get to meet your new baby. That’s when all the hard work will pay off. And yes, you might not particularly be looking forward to the labour bit, but it’s still important to know the signs of when you’re going into labour.
You’ve probably heard that you know your labour should begin when your waters break. This should be around the week 40 mark, give or take. It’s when the amniotic sac ruptures. But there’s more to it than that. So how do you know when this is happening, or when it’s about to happen? What are the signs?
This is obviously a very common indicator that your water has just broken, but actually, not all women feel this happen. In fact, for many women, the first sign of labour isn’t water breaking. However, if you do find a lot of liquid gushing out, and you’re worried you’ve peed yourself (which happens a lot in the final trimester of pregnancy), you’ll know that it’s probably amniotic fluid because it doesn’t smell of anything. At the most, it smells a little sweet. It’s a little yellowish in colour. It probably won’t be a gush of liquid, but a trickle.
Going to the toilet
As your time for labour draws nearer, it’s more likely that you’ll be spending more and more time in the toilet. This is because of prostaglandins produced in the body which are helping your body get ready for the process of labour, so your bowels might be getting affected and forcing you to make more trips to the bathroom. In which case, you should take note that your labour might be impending.
When the amniotic sac ruptures, you might hear a popping sound. This might be a faint noise and you might not hear it, but if you do, you’ll know that you’re getting close to labour. It’s a bit like a cracking joint or the sound of a balloon popping. Don’t worry about it if you don’t hear it though.
It’s probably been a while since you’ve had your period, but you’ll recognise your uterus cramping the way you’re familiar with when you get period cramps. This is a sign that your body is preparing for labour. Soon the cramps might settle into a rhythm of contractions and that’s when you know you have to start preparing yourself, or maybe start driving to the hospital and calling your family members. Don’t wait till the last minute to do everything that’s necessary.
If you’re quite late into your pregnancy and expecting yourself to go into labour, and you suddenly come down with an infection (a temperature or flu, a urinary tract infection, etc), it could be that your membrane has ruptured prematurely. You should contact the doctor if you suspect something is seriously wrong, otherwise your baby could be at risk of infection too.
This sounds quite intimidating, and strangely enough, ‘bloody show’ is actually the term for it. When your mucus plug which ‘plugs’ your uterus is dislodged, it’s accompanied by a small amount (it could be more) of blood. When your cervix begins to open up to prepare for labour, the plug loosens, and you’ll probably have a bit of discharge with blood. It’s normally not an excessive amount of blood, so you don’t need to start panicking, but it is a sign to prepare for labour.
You feel a bit tired
Pregnancy in general can be extremely physically taxing for the body. After all, you’re growing a whole other human being inside you! That isn’t easy. But in the time leading up to labour, a lot of women feel extra tired. Not just because of the extra weight and the sleepless nights, but probably because you’re quite close. In which case, try to relax and lie down. Don’t move around a lot, you really need to save your strength for labour.
Going into labour is basically when your pregnancy is over and you’re ready to welcome a new life into the world. So it’s exciting, but it’s also scary for a woman with so many physical changes she has to adjust to. Try to be as prepared as possible, and nature will handle the rest!