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Signs Of Labour–All You Need To Know

June 13, 2024

The excitement is at its highest as you near the end of your pregnancy. You may experience many unusual symptoms, wondering if that is a sign of labour. It may or may not be, as labour is unique for every expectant mother. So, how do you tell if you are in labour? Some telltale signs and symptoms indicate it is time for the baby to enter the world. To help you identify it, here is everything about signs of labour.

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Signs Of Labour

You are in actual labor if you see the following signs.

Frequent and Strong Contractions

You will understand that you are in actual labour by the contractions' intensity, frequency, and location. If you are not sure, then ask the following questions to yourself:

  • Is the contraction muscular? Actual contractions are strong and get stronger with time, and continue even if you try to sit or sleep in different positions. You may be unable to talk or walk when the contractions have progressed.
  • Spacing of contractions: True contractions are spaced regularly, becoming more frequent over time.
  • Length of contractions: True contractions last for about 30 to 70 seconds.

Bloody Show

You may see that the mucus plug which seals the uterus is broken. It comes as a large piece (resembles mucus from your nose) or little pieces (you may not notice it at all as some expectant mothers don't lose the mucus plug before delivery). A few days before labour, you may see thick vaginal discharge or an increase in the quantity. This pinkish and thickened discharge is termed bloody show and a sign that labour is coming.

Lower Back and Belly Pain

You may feel lower abdominal pressure, menstrual solid cramps, and an upset stomach. There can also be pain in the lower back that travels to the legs. The pain does not subdue even after changing positions.

Water Breaking

About 1 out of 10 women have a dramatic episode of amniotic fluid gushing out. This typically happens at home and when in bed. Sometimes, the amniotic sac leaks before labour as the uterus is resting on the bladder, and that may lead to urine leakage. Also, it isn't easy to differentiate between amniotic fluid and urine. If the membranes rupture, the amniotic fluid will leak and become odorless. The discharge can be a trickle or a sudden gush. If you see fluid leaking, you should determine if it is odorless or smells. If it is not urine, you should immediately contact your healthcare provider. Also, until you see your doctor, do not use tampons or do things that allow bacteria into the vagina. Tell your doctor if the fluid is not clear, odorless, green, or foul-smelling, as it means infection or meconium. Water breaking is one of the final symptoms of labour and happens in around 15% or fewer births, but it may not be a definite sign.

Signs Labour Is Approaching But Not Started

Here are a few signs of pre-term labour symptoms.

Baby Drops

If you are a first-time mother, you can expect the baby to drop into the pelvis a few weeks before labour. However, this does not happen for subsequent pregnancies until you are in labour, and it is called lightning. The baby is getting into a position to come out, and it is ideal to have its head down and not in a breech position. You may see frequent urination and feel you are moving slower than before as the baby's head pushes on the bladder. But you breathe better since the baby moves from the lungs to the pelvis.

Cervix Dilation

In anticipation of the birth, the cervix opens and thins down a few weeks or days before the delivery. Your doctor may track the effacement and dilation at your weekly checks in the last trimester. Since everyone progresses differently, don't be discouraged if you have not dilated or it is slow.


You may see more pain and cramping in the groin and lower back as the labour gets close, especially if this is not your first pregnancy. The joints and muscles shift and stretch to prepare for birth.

Loose Joints

Relaxin, a pregnancy hormone, loosens the ligaments throughout the pregnancy, especially during the latter part of the last trimester. Before you go into labour, you may see that the joints are more relaxed and less tight. This is nature's way of helping you deliver the baby.


Like the uterine muscles preparing for birth, the other muscles are also getting ready. One of them is the rectum, which can lead to diarrhoea. Though annoying, it is expected, so be sure to remain hydrated.

No more Weight Gain

Pregnancy weight gain stops at the end of term, and some expectant mothers lose a few pounds. This is nothing to be worried about, as it is normal and won't affect the baby's weight. The weight gets dropped as the amniotic fluid reduces and bathroom breaks increase.


You feel more fatigued because of your active bladder and being in the third trimester. Plus, getting a good night's sleep becomes tricky because of the compressed bladder and organs, especially in the last few weeks and days of pregnancy. So take naps when you get them. Some soon-to-be moms sometimes have renewed energy as the baby's birth nears and can't resist being active. That is alright as long as you don't overexert.

The common signs of labour pain symptoms are regular contractions that are a few minutes apart and water breaking. Also, if you are experiencing any other labour symptoms, it is time to consult a doctor. Listen to your body, and don't worry about going to the doctor about false alarms; it is better to be safe.


What are some uncommon signs of labour?

Pink or brown discharge, diarrhoea, dull aching pain like period cramps, nausea, vomiting, pain in the pelvis, and a burst of energy or fatigue are uncommon signs of labour. Each birth is different, so always consult your doctor for the best advice.

What should I do for early signs of labour?

Talk to your doctor regarding your signs of labour as each sign is different, so it isn't easy to predict. Keep a check on the frequency and time of your contractions. Relax and keep yourself hydrated. Early signs of labour: Always follow the advice of your doctor.

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