The third trimester of pregnancy is such an exciting time; you've been waiting for nine months, and are probably impatient for baby to come! But determining whether or not you're in labour can be confusing, especially if you've never had a baby before.
Below are some signs that may indicate pre-labour or early labour (the latent phase):
☙ Persistent lower back pain or abdominal pain, with a pre-menstrual feeling and cramps
☙ Painful contractions or tightenings of your belly that can be irregular, and can stop and start
☙ Your waters break. Your membranes may rupture with a flood or a trickle of amniotic fluid. Although this can happen long before labour starts, you should still call your LMC to let them know.
☙ A brownish or blood-tinged mucus discharge (bloody show). This is the plug of mucus that seals your cervix during pregnancy. Usually the show signals dilation of the cervix close to labour, although it may dislodge up to two weeks before labour begins
☙ An upset tummy or loose bowels
☙ A period of feeling emotional, restless, excited or anxious
☙ Disrupted sleep
Bear in mind that a full term pregnancy is classed as the period between 37 to 42 weeks, and only about 5% of babies are actually born on their due date!
When you go into labour you will need to:
• Call your lead maternity care giver
• Call your birth partner
• If you have children, call your pre-arranged babysitter
• Call the hospital to find out if your room is ready
• Put your hospital bag by the door
Once you've contacted your LMC or obstetrician, they will assess the dilation of your cervix and check your blood pressure, temperature and pulse. From here they will guide you as to when you should be going to hospital, or getting ready if you're planning a home birth.