Health & Fitness

6 surprising early signs of labour

Contractions and waters breaking aside, these are some of the first signs of labour.

By: Catriona Harvey-Jenner

We all know how the early stages of labour unfold in movies; usually with the woman's waters breaking at the least opportune moment, at which point she's whisked off to hospital and emerges shortly after, fresh faced, with child.

But needless to say, this isn't how it always happens in real life. While waters breaking and contractions are the typical signs you're about to give birth, there are some slightly more subtle (and surprising, we should add) indications that labour may be about to begin.

We spoke to Liz Halliday, Deputy Head of Midwifery at Private Midwives over in the UK, to find out what they are:

1. A show

"The show, or operculum, is the mucous plug that seals your cervix internally," Liz explained. "As your cervix softens and prepares for labour, the show can come away and you might find it when you visit the toilet. It might come away in small clear bits or it could be streaked with blood and be quite stringy," she added.

But don't assume the arrival of the show means the birth will definitely be imminent. "The show might come up to 2 weeks before labour starts, or could appear during the early stages," Liz noted.

2. Tummy troubles

Did you know that nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea can all be signs of labour starting? The reason is, Liz explained, "as your hormones rise, your body clears itself out.

"If you're unable to keep down fluids, are experiencing symptoms for over 24 hours or have a temperature, call your maternity care provider for advice," she suggested.

GETTY IMAGES / PAUL VIANT

3. Lower back pain

Contractions don't always start in the abdomen. "Some women experience early contractions as a lower back ache or aching legs," said Liz. "A hot water bottle or TENS machine (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machine) can be helpful to ease these sensations while you wait for labour to start," she added.

4. Nesting

"Although most women experience some nesting in late pregnancy, this may intensify in the days before the baby is born. If you find yourself cleaning the lightbulbs, it's a good idea to make sure that you've got everything ready for labour!" Liz advised.

GETTY IMAGES / SYDNEY BOURNE

5. A change in your pet

They're wise old things, domestic animals. According to the midwife, "pets often seem to know when a baby is coming and will have a distinct change in behaviour. A cuddly pet might suddenly leave you alone, whereas a pet who has been a bit stand-offish during pregnancy might be found constantly at your side," Liz said. If you think about this too much, it could really start to weird you out. How do they know?!

6. Feeling emotional

We all know pregnancy isn't an easy ride where emotions are concerned, but the midwife suggested paying special attention to how you're feeling in the latter stages of pregnancy, if you want an indication of when you might be about to give birth. "As hormones rise in preparation for labour, women might experience an emotional response which can manifest in tears, anger or simply feeling down," noted Liz. "This is perfectly normal and can often be helped with a bit of TLC. However, if a low mood is ongoing, do call your maternity health care provider for advice."

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Via: Cosmopolitan UK