The article “Signs of Labour” offers a comprehensive guide, discussing a variety of signs of labour. The article includes:


Signs of Labour is the stage of childbirth where the uterus starts contracting regularly and the cervix starts to open up. Which allows the baby to move down the birth canal. This ends with the delivery of a healthy baby. Not all contractions are true labour, as early in pregnancy women may experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which are irregular and not real labour contractions. True labour contractions are different because they are more intense, last longer, and happen more regularly.

In our article “Signs of Labour,” we delve into the importance of recognizing true labor, early signs of labour, active signs of labour, and when to seek medical attention during the labor process.

Importance of Recognizing True Labour

It’s important to know the signs of labour to keep the mother and baby safe. If you wait too long to get help, it can cause problems like infection or harm to the baby. But if you mistake false labour for real labour, you might go to the hospital for no reason and feel stressed. If you know the signs of true labour, you’ll feel more confident and be able to talk to your doctor better. This can help you get the right care at the right time.

pregnant fetus anatomy

In this section, we will discuss early signs of true labour.                    

Early Signs of Labour

When labour is about to begin, your body shows a few early signs indicating preparation for childbirth. These early signs can be helpful to know so that you can prepare yourself mentally and physically for the impending labour. Here are some of the early signs of labour:

1. Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as “false labour,” are contractions that occur in the uterus as a way to prepare the body for true labour. These contractions are usually irregular and can feel like a tightening or hardening of the uterus. They are often painless or mildly uncomfortable, and they typically do not increase in intensity or frequency.

2. Lightening

Lightening is a term used to describe the descent of the baby into the pelvis as the due date approaches. This can cause a noticeable shift in the mother’s belly, as the baby moves lower in the pelvis. This shift may lead to the mother feeling less pressure on her diaphragm, which can make breathing easier. However, it may also result in increased pressure on her bladder, leading to more frequent urination.

3. Increased Vaginal Discharge

As the body gets ready for labour, it may experience a rise in vaginal discharge. This discharge can be thick or similar to mucus. We call this the “mucus plug,” which seals the cervix during pregnancy and safeguards the baby from infection. When the cervix starts to dilate, it can expel the mucus plug, leading to an increase in vaginal discharge.

4. Bloody Show

Bloody show is another sign of early labour that may indicate that the cervix is beginning to dilate. This occurs when the small blood vessels in the cervix rupture as it begins to soften and efface. The result is a pink, red, or brownish discharge that can be mixed with mucus. This discharge may indicate that labour is approaching, although it is not a definite sign that labour has begun.

In this section we will discuss active signs of true labour

Active Signs of Labour

Active signs of labour indicate that your body is preparing for childbirth and that your baby will be born soon. It’s important to understand these signs to preparing for normal delivery. Here are the active signs of labour:

1. Regular Contractions

Regular contractions are the most common and reliable sign of true labour. These contractions occur at regular intervals and become more frequent, longer, and stronger over time. Unlike Braxton Hicks contractions, which are irregular and usually stop with activity or rest, true labour contractions continue and become more intense regardless of what you do. To time your contractions, start counting from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next one. If they are coming every 5 minutes or less and lasting for 60 seconds or longer, it’s a sign that you are in active labour and should go to the hospital.

2. Rupture of Membranes

The rupture of membranes, also known as the breaking of waters, is another sign that labour is progressing. This occurs when the amniotic sac that surrounds your baby ruptures, causing a gush or a slow trickle of fluid from your vagina. If this happens, immediately call your healthcare provider. Especially if you notice any signs of infection like fever or foul-smelling discharge.

3. Back Pain

While giving birth, you might go through back pain as the baby’s head presses against your spine. The pain can be strong, typically giving a continuous ache or pressure in your lower back. To alleviate back pain, try changing positions or using heat therapy, such as a warm compress or a hot water bottle. Your healthcare provider may also recommend pain relief medication or epidural anesthesia.

4. Intense Pressure

As labour progresses, you may feel intense pressure in your pelvis and rectum as the baby moves down through the birth canal. This pressure can cause the urge to push, which is a sign that your baby is getting closer to being born. It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and to push only when directed to avoid injury to yourself or your baby.

Let’s discuss when to seek medical attention.

When to Seek Medical Attention

One of the most important aspects of recognizing true labour is knowing when to seek medical attention. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Frequency and Duration of Contractions

If you’re having contractions regularly, getting closer together, and lasting longer, it could mean you’re in active labour. If your contractions are happening every five minutes or less and lasting for 60 seconds or longer, it’s time to head to the hospital.

But it’s important to remember that some women might have irregular contractions or a slow labour progression, particularly if it’s their first pregnancy. If you’re not sure whether you’re in real labour, it’s better to be cautious and get in touch with your healthcare provider for guidance.

2. Other Symptoms to Watch For

In addition to contractions, there are other symptoms to watch for that may indicate true labour. These include:

  • Rupture of membranes (water breaking)
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Severe or persistent abdominal pain
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • High fever

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention. Sometimes, these symptoms might indicate a medical emergency that demands immediate intervention.


The signs of labour include early signs such as Braxton Hicks contractions, lightning, increased vaginal discharge, and bloody show. Active signs include regular contractions, rupture of membranes, back pain, and intense pressure. Regular contractions that occur at regular intervals and become more frequent, longer, and stronger over time are the most common and reliable signs of true labour. It’s essential to seek medical attention if you experience any signs of infection, such as fever or foul-smelling discharge, or if the contractions are coming every 5 minutes or less and lasting for 60 seconds or longer. It’s also important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and to push only when directed to avoid injury to yourself or your baby. Recognizing the signs of true labour is essential for ensuring the health and safety of both the mother and the baby.

Further Reading

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1 Comment

Kaviya · May 28, 2023 at 11:43 pm

The article titled “Signs of Labour” helps to learn the significance of recognizing true labor and highlights the early signs, active signs, and when to seek medical attention during the process.

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