But what happens when pregnancy’s drawing to a close and that baby is ready to leg-it out of there?
A mere 5% of babies are born on their due date, which therefore leaves the majority of us with; a baby who is over-eager-to-exit or one who wants to over-stay it’s welcome. Let’s face it, because you’ll be clueless about the time of arrival, let’s think about some of the signposts that tell us when this baby’s about to land!
This former companion who you’ve not seen for around nine months, turns up and says ‘hey, it’s me again’. Don’t get too excited just yet though as these sensations often subside.
Resist your grandma’s advice to hop on the treadmill or the staircase. You’re not going to out-smart your own body that turns out to have more clues than an old wive’s tale. For now, hop in a bath, take a shower and relax. You certainly don’t want to peak-too-soon and be done before the main event begins.
2. You have a ‘bloody’ show
As a pregnant woman, you’ll be all too familiar with the intense increase of vaginal discharge. Sometimes you’ll think you’ve peed your pants (sometimes you will have).
A ‘show’ is a blood-stained mucous plug that is released from your cervix. It’s jelly-like and is most often blood stained or streaked, when it comes away. Sounds nasty, but this little blob of wonder has been playing guardian to your womb all these months. Make sure you blow it a kiss and say thanks before you flush it.
3. Your ‘waters’ break or leak (Spontaneous Rupture of Membranes)
Sprung a leak? Your ‘waters’ break when the amniotic sac (fluid surrounding bub) ruptures.
Sometimes your ‘waters’ break with a gush, just like the movies. If it happens somewhere in public, you may be left wishing you had that proverbial jar of pickled gherkins.
I remember feeling the ‘pop’ and the instant lack of cushioning for baby’s head, and thinking that there was no turning back now!
Other times, it can feel more like a gentle trickle, where you could be easily forgiven to have thought you may have just peed a little. This ‘leak’ may occur over days.
Pop on a pad (not a tampon) and call your midwife to discuss your action plan. She/he might want to test the fluid to make sure you haven’t just wet yourself. If you have, this might feel like the ultimate humiliation, but honestly, it’s very common to confuse the two. Have a giggle and know you’ll be on-point next time.
A heads-up: Unsure it’s your ‘waters’? Do a quick sniff test – amniotic fluid smells like semen, not urine and is clear or has a tinge of pink.
4. You start having contractions
Contractions might start as period-like pain and may radiate to your back.
Spoiler alert: Contractions often start sporadically and are not overly intense. They will however become more frequent and more full-on as labour progresses. It’s OK, you’ve got this! Contractions hurt, but with every single one, baby comes closer to you and plus, don’t forget your body is designed to do this gig.
Contractions are known to fizzle out sometimes too, so try not to be too disappointed if this is the case. If your labour day isn’t today, rest assured it will be someday soon.
If your contractions continue to develop a good regular pattern and increase in intensity, labour is progressing! Once the contractions are coming every five minutes (timed from the beginning of one, to the beginning of the next), your baby is on its way! Yay!
If you’re having a hospital birth, the best time to leave home will be when contractions are well established but you’re in control of each as it rises and falls. Don’t leave it to the point of frantic, when things feel out of control, and don’t forget to communicate with your (likely to be fabulous!) midwife.
Charming, I know, but diarrhoea can be a good sign that labour is imminent. As labour approaches, prostaglandin stimulates the bowel, making them open more frequently. It’s the body’s delightful way of evacuating its contents to accommodate baby’s imminent passage. How very thoughtful (if only there was another way)!
For the mums who’ve birthed before, the first signpost might be obvious – GAME IS ON, but for the rest of us, we need to be alert to those precious indicators that will lead us toward labour day.
Hugs into the ether….
Mum of six fabulous kids and foster-mum to numerous others. Event manager, doula, childbirth educator, lactation counsellor, owner of Sydney Birth Support, Mamaway Advocate and an encourager of all mums out there giving it their best crack!