If your due date is nearing, then look out for signs of labour that indicate your baby is on the way:
- Waters break
- Heartburn relief
- Mucus plug loosens
- Nipples leak
- Swollen down below
- Frequent toilet stops
- Sudden burst of energy
- Walking differently
Labour generally begins gently, slowly develops over hours and even days. Make a checklist in your mind of these early signs of labour that let you know if it is really happening.
Your water can break any time during labour or birth, or your doctor will rupture the amniotic sac, to help kick-start labour. Your waters can break any time during labour or birth
If your water breaks, call doctor at once. Once your water breaks, you are at risk of infection, so your doctor may want you to go in delivery room / surgery. Doctor will also enquire about the fluid: it should be straw-like and should have sweet odour. If the fluid is green then your baby might have emptied its bowels, which is a sign of distress.
As your baby bump grows, your baby will push your stomach upwards. This will push the acid in your stomach into your windpipe, causing heartburn. Fortunately, in the weeks nearing your due date, you may notice the symptoms getting slightly better. This is because your baby has moved down into your pelvis and is ready for birth.
You may also be able to breathe normally, because your baby is not pushing against your lungs and decreasing their capacity.
Ache in your lower back can mean your baby is circling into the right position for labour. Sometimes this takes few days and can be painful. It could also be a sign that your contractions are about to begin– some women experience the pain more in their back than their stomach.
Ease the discomfort by putting your feet up, ask your partner for a back rub or have a warm bath.
Mucus plug loosens
A mucus plug covers your cervix in pregnancy and this may loosen up few days before labour starts. A brown, red-tinged or pink jelly-like discharge comes out either in one lump or slowly over a few days. If the colour of the discharge is bright red or it starts to look heavy, head to the hospital.
It is not just during breastfeeding that nipples can leak – your nipples can also leak throughout your final trimester. You will probably notice it most in the last few weeks before your baby arrives. The milk coming out of the nipples is colostrum, a nutrient-rich liquid that will nurture your baby until you get proper milk, couple of days after the birth.
If you are getting wet patches on your clothes, buy some disposable breast pads that you can place inside your bra.
The hormones that help your uterus contract can also sometimes cause diarrhoea just before birth. If this happens, increase your water intake and do not have milk or sugary drinks, which can make diarrhoea worse. Try eating food such as rice to keep your energy levels up.
Swollen down below
Pregnancy can leave you feeling swollen in different areas of your body, including your labia at the entrance to your vagina.
It can be disturbing, but it is very normal. It is caused by the increase in blood volume in your body. When the baby moves down into the pelvis, generally after week 37, it puts more pressure around the vagina, making it feel swollen.’
You can ease any discomfort by placing an ice pack in a clean towel and placing it on the area.
Frequent toilet stops
Growing baby presses on your bladder, hence, the urge to pee becomes more frequent during pregnancy. But this could increase even further in the final week as your baby is positioned in your pelvis. This is probably among the most annoying signs of labour.
Do not avoid drinking water as you might dehydrate yourself. Avoid coffee, soft drinks and citrus fruits as these tend to irritate the bladder.
Sudden burst of energy
If getting up from the sofa was too much of an activity for you to manage for most of your last trimester, the sudden gush of energy in the days before labour starts will be a pleasant surprise.
Make the most of it! Make the home ready for the baby’s welcome.
If your walk has started to resemble a cross between a cowboy and a duck, (great J) it could be a sign that your baby will soon be arriving. The pelvis widens in preparation for birth, which affects the way you walk.
The short, painless, tightening sensation means your uterus is all set for labour. Real contractions start weak, it almost feels like period pain, and then they grow in frequency and intensity.
Established labour is generally when you have three, one-minute contractions in the gap of 10 minutes. When the contractions get intense and you struggle to talk, it is definitely time to head to hospital.
If you feel any of these signs of labour, do get in touch with your doctor immediately.