Probably one of the most commonly asked questions surrounding labour is “When will I know that I am in labour?” Despite what the movies tell us, the odds that you’ll be walking through the supermarket and suddenly your water breaks are slim to none.
Even though each labour experience is different for everyone and dependant on many factors, there are some very common tell-tale signs that go-time has arrived.
• Nesting ( not just for birds)
Usually a boost of energy towards the end of the 3rd trimester where you feel the need to clean and organize your “nest” whether it’s cleaning or packing your hospital bag for the 17th time. Just make sure you are not over extending yourself (the top shelf of the book case can be dusted off by someone else).
• Losing your mucus plug (it’s as great as it sounds)
This one can be a bit of hit or miss as some women lose their plug weeks before labour or even hours before and often times it’s completely missed that you even lost it as there is no physical feeling. Either way, it’s always a good idea to contact your health provider if anything is falling out of your vagina, mama.
• Diarrhea (in this case a good thing)
As your body prepares for labour a hormone called prostaglandin is released. This is what helps your cervix to relax and become loose and it has the same effect on your bowels, pushing this out is gonna be a breeze so don’t worry about it.
• Your water breaks (TACO Time)
If your water breaks before your labour has started (this typically only happens around 10% of the time), remember to record TACO.
T-ime it happened
A-mount that came out
C-olour – it should be clear (anything other than clean, call your doctor asap)
O-dour (yeah you have to smell it)
These details will help your birth team establish how imminent labour is.
• Contractions (trust us, you’ll know when they’re happening)
When contractions start you will have no doubt whether or not what you were feeling was a contraction or just a general twinge so when that time comes follow the 4-1-1 rule.
Labour happens in two phases – early labour and active labour. During early labour, it’s best to stay home as long as possible for your own comfort as well as a lessened chance of medical interventions (if that’s what you’re going for). Once your contractions are timed at 4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each and has been this way for 1 hour (hence the 4-1-1 rule) then it’s best to have the car packed and ready as this means active labour has arrived.
Some women may experience some or none of these early labour signs at all. The general rule is that if you are unsure of what you are experiencing, you should contact your medical provider with your questions or concerns.