When to Worry

Remember that you may experience pre-labour for several days before the real thing. The contractions might be painful and regular but they won’t be debilitating and they wont get closer than five minutes apart. These contractions are working on ripening your cervix, toning up your uterus and helping the baby flex into a good birth position. It is best to eat, drink, rest and ignore these pains for as long as possible. Consider pre-labour as like going for a walk on the flat. You get tired and breathless but it’s not that hard. Real labour is like walking up a steep hill – it gets harder, stronger and takes more work.

Bloody Show: You might get some bloody mucous or slimy blood stained mucous as a blob or a smear. It might be when you wipe after going to the toilet, it might plop into the toilet, or it might just be on your pad/pants. A few women get clear mucous that is like milky water, rather than blood.

This is a sign your cervix is getting ready to open/dilate. It usually means labour will start within the next 3-4 days, but sometimes it can still be 2-3 weeks. Relax and be happy that your labour will start soon.

If you have a LOT of blood, running down your leg, or more than half a cup, please phone your midwife and let her know.

Waters breaking: There is about a litre of water around your baby, and when they break it is usually a BIG gush, of at least a cupful, and it will keep on running. Your body continually makes water until the baby is born, so you will not run out or have a “dry birth”. If the water is clear or pink, this is great. If it is green, please let your midwife know straight away.

Mostly your waters break when you are in strong labour, after several hours. Sometimes, (around 10% of women) waters break before labour starts. This can mean baby is in an OP position. For half of these women, labour will start on its own within 12 hours, but the other half will need to be induced to get labour going. Don’t panic. Put on a pad, take some panadol and go to bed to SLEEP! Unless it is green water you don’t need to call your midwife till 8am. Sleep and be delighted that your labour is gong to start very soon!

If you don’t go into labour by 18-24 hours after your waters break, you will need to have IV antibiotics in the hospital and the obstetrician will decide the method to induce your labour. Remember this only happens to around 5% of women, so don’t worry. Your midwife has a few tricks to help get labour going and hopefully prevent the need for induction!

Contractions: These usually start out irregular and mildly painful. Over the hours they will get stronger, longer and closer together. Until they are 4-5 minutes apart and 90 seconds long it is not real labour, but “pre labour” and you must rest while you can. Once they get to 4-5 minutes apart, and 90 seconds long, we consider it labour – but we still like you to labour at home for a few hours before going to hospital (unless you are planning a homebirth!) Let your midwife know they are now close and strong. Start using your “active labour” techniques – breathing, rocking, squatting and walking. It is almost time for your baby to be born.