The birth of your child is an event you’ve been eagerly and happily anticipating since the day you found out you were pregnant. You have probably even spent time wondering what labour would feel like, how long it would last, how to tell if it’s for real or if it is false labour.

While there are some characteristic changes that take place in your body around labour, every woman’s experience of labour is unique and different. What is “normal” can vary from woman to woman. The signs and symptoms of labour may begin to appear about 3 weeks before your predicted due date. There’s no precise way to predict when exactly you might go into labour.

Read ahead to find out more about what to expect as you near labour along with some of the signs and symptoms that your child is ready to arrive:

  1. The baby drops:

If this is your first child, your baby will start to descend into your pelvis with its head down low. This is commonly termed as “lightning” and it means that your baby is getting into position to make the exit. This normally happens about two to four weeks before labour.

  1. Opening of the cervix:

More commonly known as dilation. Your cervix will begin to open as you near labour. Your doctor will measure the dilation in centimetres. When you’re 10 centimetres dilated, it means your baby is ready for arrival.

  1. The heightened urge for urination:

This can be a sign that your baby’s head has dropped into your pelvis, putting increased pressure on your bladder. Therefore, as you near labour, the intensity of your urge to urinate will increase.

  1. Water break:

The baby in your uterus is protected by a fluid-filled membrane called the amniotic sac. This membrane provides cushioned support and protection to your baby. As you enter labour, this membrane will rupture. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as water breaking. 

When your water breaks, you will notice a gush of watery fluid coming from your vagina. You must head to the hospital as soon as this happens. Your healthcare provider will examine both you and your baby’s condition, and then determine how to move forward.

  1. Contractions:

The intensity of these contractions varies from woman to woman. As you near labour, you will experience tightening, pounding, and sharp pains in your abdomen, similar to menstrual cramps but much stronger in intensity. Towards the end of your third trimester, you will experience Braxton-Hicks contractions, which is also known as false labour. These contractions are mild in comparison to true labour contractions and do not occur at regular intervals. The moment you notice your contractions approaching at less than ten minutes apart, it’s most likely that you’re going into labour.

Just stay calm and remember that for most women, it is hard to tell what triggers labour and whether or not you’re nearing labour. Keep your healthcare providers on call and keep them informed. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them in cases of uncertainty, and as many times as you deem fit. When you begin to notice any of the above signs of labour, start putting your hospital bag together. Make sure you have all essentials packed and ready to go. Head to Mothercare Online and browse through a variety of mommy and baby essentials to keep handy. Stay strong, mommies-to-be. You’ve got this!