Early Signs of LabourYou’ve carried and nurtured your baby for almost nine months and you can’t wait to meet them. Your body has gone through so many changes throughout your pregnancy. You’ve almost made it!

There are common signs that labour may be around the corner. Although only baby know’s when he or she is ready to meet you and the world, here are the top five common signs labour is approaching.

Vaginal Discharge

During pregnancy, the cervix stays closed and is plugged up with mucus. As you progress towards labour, the cervix begins to dilate and soften in preparation for delivery, causing what’s accumulated there to dislodge. The mucus is dispelled as either a blob (called the “mucus plug”) or a runny smear. Also, blood vessels can tear as the cervix opens, tinting the discharge with blood (known as “bloody show”).

Some pregnant women loose their mucus plug days before they go into labour and others could be a few weeks. It’s a good sign that your cervix is making changes and your baby will be here soon.

What does it look like? We won’t post photos here but you can search online and find some. You may notice your parts of the mucus plug in your underwear or when you wipe after using the washroom. Good idea to wear a pantyliner as it will continue to save those underwear!

Softer Bowel Movements

During the early part of labour, your body begins to release prostaglandins, a group of hormone-like substances that cause the uterus to contract and help soften and dilate the cervix. But prostaglandins can also hyper-stimulate the bowels, causing frequent stools or even diarrhea.

Although this is never fund, having loose stools is another good sign that your body is making changes in preparation for the big day.

Emptying the bladder and bowels will create more space as your uterus is sitting in-between them. Going to the washroom more often may be an inconvenience but it helps baby.

Back Aches or Back Pain

Having a sore back or back pain can be a sign that your baby is facing posterior or commonly known as sunny side up. Babies wiggle  themselves through the birth canal and often change to face anterior.

As baby descends the birth canal, the baby’s skull hits the pregnant person’s spine. This can result in constant pain that may radiate to the abdomen and back.

The back discomfort could also be from pregnancy and how the back has to accommodate for the extra weight of baby in the front. A warm bath or shower can help or a heating pad. During labour you can put counter pressure on the tailbone which can relieve some discomfort.


Contractions that are progressing (become stronger and closer together) is a sign of labour. The uterus will continue to contract until after the baby and placenta are born. Contractions that are not progressing are preparing the uterus but is not a sign of labour and are known as Braxton Hicks contractions.

In early labour, contractions may be every 20 minutes, even longer and may not last that long. As labour progresses, the contractions will become stronger and closer together.

You can time your contractions by downloading a contraction app which will calculate the time between each contraction, how long they are and some even tell you when it’s time to go to the hospital.

Your healthcare provider may have given you instructions on when to call them or head to the hospital or birth centre.

Waters Break

Approximately only 10% of labours begin with the waters breaking. Waters breaking is the rupture of the amniotic sac. You may feel a gush of water or a small leak. Waters breaking is a good sign that contractions may begin soon.

Some pregnant women may start to feel contractions immediately after their waters’ have broken and others contractions may not begin for a few hours.

The colour of the waters is important. If they are green or brown in colour, your baby has had a bowel movement. This is also called meconium. You’ll want to notify your healthcare provider if this happens.

Waters breaking isn’t a sign to head to the hospital immediately as contractions may not start occurring right away. Most health care providers give 12 hours once the waters have broken for contractions to begin.

How a Birth & Labour Doula Can Help

Doulas provide physical and emotional support during pregnancy and labour. A doula can help review the early signs of labour, help you decide when it is time to go to the hospital, and may join you at home during early labour and be there during the entire labour.

To learn more how a doula can help you, contact us today.