The browser you are using is too old for our website. Please visit from Chrome and you will be able to browse normally.


      Early Signs of Labour

      Am I in labour? The first stage of labour can last for hours, so remember not to panic when you begin to spot pre-labour signs. Women are expected to have irregular contractions in the early stage, but when these become more regular and there is a pattern, this is usually when the mum-to-be is asked to attend triage. Of course, this really depends on the woman, but you could be contracting for a little while before you are admitted to your triaging unit. Early labour symptoms may include any combination of the following:

      • A show - the plug of mucus that has been sealing your cervix comes away
      • Your waters breaking
      • Contractions:
      • A cramping feeling - a bit like period pains
      • Feeling bloated, constipated or a bit of pain in your tummy
      • Diarrhoea or nausea

      Going into labour

      As soon as you think you're experiencing the first signs of labour, get in contact with your midwife or the hospital. They’ll want to know the timings of your contractions and any other symptoms. Remember, if your waters have broken, you should always call them straight away. They’ll advise you on the signs of labour starting and when you should go into hospital.

      Signs of slow labour

      No two women are the same. Some have a fast labour, others have a slow labour. But if things slow down too much during labour, it may be necessary to speed them up a bit.

      Different hospitals have different definitions of ‘slow labour’, but the main way to spot the signs of slow labour is to measure the rate at which your cervix dilates. If this is less than 0.5cm per hour over a four-hour period, Mother Nature might need a helping hand.

      Don’t worry. Your midwife knows all about slow labour signs and will regularly check how you’re getting on. If she detects slow labour symptoms, she’ll talk to you and your doctor before deciding the best way forward for you and your baby.

      Join the club

      Join the club

      • Helpful emails – Packed with no-nonsense advice.
      • 24/7 support – Because parenting's a 24 hour job.
      • Free weaning plan* – Master mealtimes with our 5 step weaning plan. 
      • Free limited edition baby grow** – Help us tell the world to #LoveDontJudge
      *Weaning is recommended at around 6 months. Please speak with a healthcare professional before introducing solid foods.
      **For the first 15,000 people who sign up through us. Your limited edition baby grow will be size 0-6 or 6-12 months, depending on the age of your baby.
      Join us now

      More from pregnancy