Although every woman's labour is different, there are some clear indicators that it might be time for your baby to be born.

Signs of labour

Some of the most obvious signs include strong, rhythmic muscular contractions in your pelvic region; the coming away of the mucous membrane, which might be bloody; and the following breaking of your waters.

Other signs can include sudden pains in your back or stomach, cramps similar to period pain and the urge to go to the toilet (cause by the baby pressing down on your bowels).

Stages of labour

Labour can be divided into three stages:

  • Stage one – increasing contractions and the dilation of your cervix to roughly 10cm. This stage can take many hours and advances towards its end as the contractions increase.
  • Stage two – the full opening of your cervix followed by the birth of your baby. This is the stage where you assist the birth by actively pushing.
  • Stage three – the contraction of your womb, which pushes out the placenta. This can occur up to 30 minutes after your baby’s birth.

Labour, and the signs that it’s occurring, or about to occur, can be a confronting experience. It’s important to prepare by having an understanding of labour, a birth plan in place and advice from a specialist about these final stages of your pregnancy.