How do I know I'm in labour?
Every woman will experience the start of labour differently, but how do you know when to race down the emergency lane or when to sit back and let the process happen slowly and naturally?
Red light signs
Keep the brakes on you don't need to rush to the hospital just yet
- Dull backache that reappears at regular intervals.
- An intuitive feeling that something is going on, even when there seems to be nothing happening. Nesting (keeping busy) or hibernating (taking things slowly).
Orange light signs
Don't go shopping, stay at home and conserve your energy. Something is happening
- A show - the appearance of a plug of mucus, which seals your cervix during pregnancy. It is often streaked with a little blood. Wait for something else to prompt you as lovemaking or a doctor's internal examination may have dislodged the plug and caused it to come away. This is no cause for alarm.
- Diarrhoea coming and going at regular intervals.
- Low nagging period-like pain, which moves up and becomes abdominal pain.
- Definite and regular tensing and tightening sensations in the abdomen that may not be painful but indicating contractions of the uterus.
- Feelings of pressure deep and low in the pelvis as your baby's head presses against the cervix.
- Pain on the front, outside or inside of the thighs.
- Feelings of being in an altered state, finding it hard to focus or concentrate.
Green light signs
Get hold of your doctor, midwife or get into the car.
- A show accompanied by backache, strong regular contractions and change in the mother's mood.
- Experiencing contractions that get your attention and become longer, stronger and closer together.
- Contractions that occur three to four times in 10 minutes.
- Breaking of waters (rupture of membranes).