While there is no certain set of events, there are some common signs that labour is about to start. Not everyone will experience them, but if you do there's a good chance that you and your baby are about to meet for the first time.
'The night before I went into labour I got this huge surge of energy and went on a massive cleaning spree, less than 24 hours later I met my Lola for the first time.'
Sandra, mum of Lola, 8 months
This is when your baby settles into your pelvis, it can occur a few weeks or hours before labour. It's called 'lightening' because the baby will not be pressing against
your diaphragm and you can breath more easily; you may also feel that you need to urinate more often.
You may notice a pinkish or blood-streaked discharge. This is from the mucus plug that has sealed the cervix during pregnancy. It can occur up to two weeks before labour starts.
Despite what you see in films, most women don't experience a huge gush of water. It may feel like a pop, or more like a trickle of water. Either way, if you suspect your water has broken, notify your doctor or midwife straight away.
Early contractions may feel like menstrual cramps that come every 20 to 30 minutes. They gradually become more frequent. When they occur every three to
five minutes, you'll be in active labour. To time your contractions, write down the exact time each one begins (interval) and how long each lasts (duration).
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