When you are nearing your due date, you will probably be looking out for signs that your baby is on the way, and whether you are having your first, or your tenth child, it is easy to wonder, debate and get worried about how you are feeling when you are not in labour, or to ignore signs that later turn out to be very valid! Knowing what to look for can be reassuring, so here are some common signs of labour;
Contractions ? these may not be severe, but if they are genuine contractions they will be at regular
intervals. They will become more regular and stronger as time goes on.
Cramps ? these may feel like menstrual cramps in the abdomen and low in the tummy, ranging from mild discomfort to severe cramping pain.
Upset stomach ? you may have some vomiting or diarrhoea in early labour.
Waters breaking ? this might be a sudden gush, but it is just as likely to be a steady trickle. You might think you are wetting yourself, but if it is your waters breaking, the wetness will continue when you try to hold it in.
A bloody show ? this is when you pass a mucous plug, likely to look like a brown or bloody discharge.
Feeling emotional ? you might feel hormonal, emotional or upset, or you may feel suddenly very anxious.
What to do?!
First of all, don?t panic!
It is best to stay at home in early labour, but it is also important that you get specific advice from the professionals; advice that is tailored to your own unique situation. Remember every pregnancy and every labour is different. So call ahead and ask your midwife what you should do. It is always better to make the call to the maternity ward and get some advice rather than wait and worry.
They will probably tell you to stay at home until you have regular contractions, unless there is any reason to be concerned. Even if you have just one of the signs of early labour, it is best to ask ? especially if you are past your due date. Your early labour and the speed at which it progresses will depend on lots of things, but remember that first babies tend to take longer to arrive.
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If you are told to stay at home, try to eat a small meal, get some rest and take it easy. Arrange childcare for your other children if you have any, and confirm arrangements for getting to hospital and letting people know how you are getting on.
Try not to let your nesting instinct take over ? this isn?t the time to get the vacuum cleaner out! It is important to monitor how you are progressing and get in touch with the midwife again when things have changed. Don?t be disappointed if the signs of labour stop and things seem to be tailing off ? it won?t be long until all the signs are the real thing, and this practice run is a sign that you are getting closer!