How Will I Know I Am In Labour? What Are The Signs Of Labour?

How Will I Know I Am In Labour? What Are The Signs Of Labour?

As the final weeks of pregnancy approach, many expectant mothers find themselves pondering a critical question: "How will I know I am in labour? What are the signs of labour?" Understanding the early signs of labour is essential for a timely and prepared response, ensuring both the mother's and baby's well-being. This comprehensive article delves into the primary indicators of labour, offering insights into what to expect as the big moment draws near, and addresses frequently asked questions surrounding the onset of labour.

Table of Contents

Key Indicators of Labour

Contractions: The Hallmark of Labour

One of the most definitive signs of labour is the onset of regular, increasingly intense contractions. Unlike the sporadic and often painless Braxton Hicks contractions, true labour contractions grow stronger, longer, and closer together over time. They signify the body's natural mechanism to facilitate the baby's passage through the birth canal.

The Mucus Plug and Bloody Show

As labour approaches, changes in cervical mucus are common. The discharge of the mucus plug—a thick, jelly-like substance that has sealed the cervical canal during pregnancy—often indicates that the cervix is beginning to prepare for labour. This event, sometimes accompanied by a blood-tinged discharge known as the "bloody show," suggests that labour could be imminent.

Waters Breaking: A Telltale Sign

The rupture of the amniotic sac, colloquially known as "waters breaking," is a classic sign of labour. It can occur as a dramatic gush or a subtle trickle of fluid. If you experience this, it's crucial to contact your healthcare provider promptly, as it indicates that labour is likely to commence soon, if it hasn't already.

Physical and Emotional Pre-Labour Signs

In the days or hours leading up to labour, many women experience a range of physical and emotional signs. These can include:

  • Back Pain: Persistent lower back pain, distinct from the usual discomforts of late pregnancy, can be a precursor to labour.
  • Nesting Instinct: An unexpected surge of energy and an overwhelming urge to organize and prepare your home for the baby's arrival is commonly reported.
  • Increased Pressure: As the baby drops lower into the pelvis, increased pressure on the bladder and pelvis can be felt, often leading to more frequent urination.
  • Diarrhoea: Some women experience loose stools or diarrhoea as the body prepares for labour.

Cervical Changes: The Pathway to Delivery

Cervical changes, including softening, effacing, and dilating, are critical processes that occur in the lead-up to labour. These changes are often monitored by healthcare providers during prenatal visits but can also manifest as period-like cramps or increased pelvic pressure.

Preparing for Labour

As you navigate the final stages of pregnancy, staying informed and prepared is key. Engaging in prenatal care, understanding the signs of labour, and knowing when to seek medical attention are crucial steps. At Luvbelly, we're committed to supporting you through this remarkable journey. Our Prenatal Green Drink is designed to support your nutritional needs during pregnancy, and our community is here to share experiences and advice.

Embracing the Journey

Each pregnancy and labour experience is unique, and while signs and symptoms can guide you, listening to your body and consulting with your healthcare provider are paramount. For more insights and shared experiences from our community, visit our Testimonials page.

As you familiarize yourself with the early signs of labour, it's equally important to understand the stages that follow. Recognizing the progression of labour can help you manage expectations and make informed decisions during this transformative time.

The Latent Phase: Early Labour

The latent phase, often referred to as early labour, is characterized by mild, irregular contractions that gradually become more regular and stronger. This phase can be unpredictable, lasting for hours or even days, especially for first-time mothers. During this time, the cervix begins to soften, efface, and dilate up to 3-4 centimeters. Emotional support, relaxation techniques, and staying hydrated are key during this initial phase.

Transition to Active Labour

Active labour signifies a shift to more intense and frequent contractions, leading to rapid cervical dilation from 4 centimeters to about 10 centimeters. This phase requires focused breathing, pain management strategies, and continuous support. It's during active labour that many women choose to head to the hospital or birthing center if they haven't already.

Understanding Premature Labour

While most discussions focus on full-term labour, it's crucial to be aware of premature labour signs—labour that begins before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Symptoms mirror those of regular labour but occur earlier, necessitating immediate medical attention to manage the health of both mother and baby.

Coping Mechanisms and Support

Pain Management and Comfort Measures

Pain management is a personal choice, with options ranging from natural coping techniques to medical interventions like epidurals. Comfort measures such as warm baths, massage, and various labour positions can also provide significant relief.

The Role of a Support Team

Having a supportive team, whether it's your partner, family members, a doula, or medical professionals, can make a substantial difference in your labour experience. This support network can offer encouragement, help with pain management techniques, and assist in decision-making.

Preparing Your Mind and Body

Mental preparation is as crucial as physical readiness. Practices like prenatal yoga, meditation, and childbirth education classes can equip you with tools to navigate labour with confidence. Engaging in discussions on platforms like Luvbelly's community can also provide comfort and reassurance from shared experiences.

Embracing the Final Stretch

As you approach the end of your pregnancy, remember that each labour experience is unique. While it's important to recognize the signs of labour and understand its stages, staying flexible and open to the unfolding journey is vital. Trusting in your body's capability and leaning on your support system can empower you through this life-changing event.

For more resources and support, including how to maintain your well-being during pregnancy with our Pregnancy Smoothie Challenge, visit Luvbelly. Our commitment extends beyond products like our Prenatal Green Drink; we're here to support you through every step of your pregnancy journey, backed by our 365-Day Guarantee.

The Final Stage: Meeting Your Baby

The Pushing Phase

Once fully dilated, you'll enter the pushing phase, where you'll work with your body's contractions to guide your baby through the birth canal. This stage can vary greatly in length, especially for first-time mothers. It's a time of intense physical effort, but also immense excitement and anticipation.

The Birth

The moment of birth is both surreal and overwhelmingly emotional. As your baby emerges, any pain or discomfort is often overshadowed by the joy and relief of finally meeting your little one. Immediate skin-to-skin contact is encouraged to foster bonding and support your baby's transition to the outside world.

Postpartum Care and Recovery

The postpartum period is a time of significant physical and emotional adjustment. Your healthcare team will monitor you and your baby, ensuring a healthy start for both of you. It's important to focus on rest, nutrition, and bonding with your baby during this time.

Reflecting on Your Journey

As you reflect on your labour and delivery experience, remember that every woman's journey is unique. Whether your experience was exactly as planned or took unexpected turns, it's a testament to your strength and resilience.

Sharing Your Story

Sharing your birth story with others can be therapeutic and empowering. It not only helps you process your experience but also provides support and insight to other expectant mothers. Consider contributing your story to Luvbelly's Testimonials to join a community of women sharing their journeys through pregnancy and childbirth.

Looking Ahead

As you adjust to life with your new baby, remember that the journey of motherhood is filled with continuous learning and growth. Embrace each moment, and don't hesitate to seek support when needed. The Luvbelly community is here to support you beyond pregnancy, offering resources, encouragement, and a shared space for all things motherhood.

Continuing Your Wellness Journey

Your postpartum wellness is crucial for both you and your baby. Luvbelly's commitment to maternal health extends beyond pregnancy with products and challenges designed to support your recovery and overall well-being. Revisit our Pregnancy Smoothie Challenge for nutritious recipes that can also be adapted for postpartum nourishment.


The journey through pregnancy to labour and finally meeting your baby is one of life's most extraordinary experiences. By understanding the signs of labour, preparing for its stages, and embracing the support around you, you're setting the stage for a positive and empowering birth experience.

At Luvbelly, we're honored to be a part of your journey, offering support, resources, and a community of women who share your experiences. Remember, our 365-Day Guarantee on products like our Prenatal Green Drink is just one way we're committed to your health and happiness, from pregnancy through postpartum and beyond.

As you embark on this incredible journey of motherhood, know that you're not alone. The Luvbelly community is with you every step of the way, cheering you on and providing a space for shared experiences, advice, and support. Welcome to the beautiful journey of motherhood.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can I differentiate between true labour and false labour?

True labour contractions become progressively more intense and frequent, and they don't ease up with movement or changing positions. False labour, or Braxton Hicks contractions, are usually irregular and subside with rest or a change in activity.

2. Can labour start without my waters breaking?

Yes, labour can start without the waters breaking. In many cases, the amniotic sac doesn't rupture until active labour is well underway. Sometimes, it may need to be ruptured artificially by a healthcare provider.

3. How long does the early stage of labour typically last?

The early stage of labour, or the latent phase, can vary significantly. For first-time mothers, it can last from several hours to a few days. For women who have given birth before, it may be shorter.

4. Is it normal to experience diarrhoea before labour begins?

Yes, diarrhoea can be a sign that labour is approaching. It's the body's natural way of clearing the lower bowel before labour begins.

5. What should I do if I think I'm in labour?

If you believe you're in labour, especially if your contractions are regular and increasing in intensity, contact your healthcare provider for guidance. They can advise you on when to come to the hospital or birthing center.

6. How quickly do I need to get to the hospital after my waters break?

It's recommended to contact your healthcare provider immediately after your waters break. The risk of infection increases once the amniotic sac has ruptured, so they may want you to come in for an assessment even if you're not having strong contractions yet.

7. What are some natural ways to manage labour pain?

Natural pain management techniques include breathing exercises, movement and positioning, hydrotherapy (using water), massage, and the use of a birthing ball. The effectiveness of these methods varies from person to person.

8. Can I eat or drink during labour?

Policies on eating and drinking during labour can vary depending on the hospital or birthing center and the specifics of your labour. It's generally recommended to stay hydrated, but heavy meals might be discouraged in case certain medical interventions become necessary.

9. What are the signs that I should go to the hospital immediately?

You should go to the hospital if you have regular, painful contractions that are about 5 minutes apart and last for about a minute, if your water breaks, if you experience any bleeding, or if you notice a decrease in your baby's movements.

10. How will I know when to start pushing?

Your healthcare provider will guide you on when to start pushing, typically when you're fully dilated to 10 centimeters. You may also feel a strong, natural urge to push as the baby descends into the birth canal.