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How will I know when I am in labour?

(22 Posts)
BelliniButterfly Mon 10-Oct-16 21:52:51

Hi everyone

I'm 36+1 with my first child. I've had a fairly straightforward pregnancy and managed to keep healthy and active. Still exercising 5 times per week. I had a growth scan last week as was measuring behind and baby is small with not a lot of fluid but within normal limits. I've had period cramp on and off for the last couple of weeks which hasn't come to anything and I think I've been losing small bits of my mucus plug.

Since Friday, I have been even more exhausted than normal. I was woken by a wave of really strong cramp this morning which then disappeared throughout the morning. Tonight though, baby has been moving so much more than normal. Strong movements that feel like it is about to stretch and poke through my stomach! I've had what I think are a lot of braxton hicks which have been a lot of tightening across my bump and also cramp down below. My bump feels rock hard.

Is all of this just normal pregnancy symptoms or something more? I can't shake a feeling that baby is getting closer to its arrival but maybe it's wishful thinking! As a first time mum I don't have any knowledge of what early labour feels like so would appreciate any advice.

Ps my bump has been really hard generally since Friday.

NapQueen Mon 10-Oct-16 21:54:48

Sounds like they are having a good old wriggle into position.

However Midwives always want to know if baby's movements are particularly out of the ordinary (not always just reduced movement), so it may be worth calling the Assessment Unit (notes have the number), and speaking with someone if the movements are wildly more than what is your babies normal

NapQueen Mon 10-Oct-16 21:56:25

Oh, and to answer the initial question- when it is labour you will know grin
Sounds shit I know but it's true. If you can happily do other things during the pain they aren't contractions. If a warm bath and paracetamol stops them or reduces them they aren't contractions.

If you practically bite through the fireplace or moo like a cow they are contractions grin

CocoLoco87 Mon 10-Oct-16 22:06:09

If you practically bite through the fireplace or moo like a cow they are contractions

Lol this!!

iminshock Mon 10-Oct-16 22:09:24

Don't worry you'll know.
Good luck

Sunnydawn Mon 10-Oct-16 22:09:43

I wondered a lot about this when I was pregnant with ds1.

Then one day, I was worken up at 4.30am by an excruciating contraction. grin

OP, it's different for everyone, but you may became nice long early labour. Just make sure your bag is ready.

ScarletSienna Mon 10-Oct-16 22:14:52

You may not know categorically so really look out for all the signs you can read about but also totally believe your instincts. 20 minutes before my child was born, I was told I absolutely wasn't in labour by two midwives and a doctor after being monitored and having an internal examination. I couldn't put my finger on why I knew I was (no contractions and baby not engaged) but 20 mins later I was holding my baby. I had diarrhoea that morning and apparently that can be a sign!

HelenaJustina Mon 10-Oct-16 22:18:57

Everyone is different but your uterus will be contracting during labour, think same kind of pain as period pain, i.e. Muscular, low, abdominal and you are in the right ball park.

QuilliamCakespeare Mon 10-Oct-16 22:24:55

It'll smart a bit grin

Frazzled2207 Mon 10-Oct-16 22:25:47

It can be confusing because when overdue with dc2 I had pains all night and saw the mw expecting her to say I was in early labour and she examined me and said I was zero centimetres dilated !
In the end, both times I "knew" when braxton hicks and sharp pains began synching up together. Regular braxton hicks are IME very common in late pregnancy and don't necessarily mean anything.

milkshakeandmonstermunch Mon 10-Oct-16 22:31:43

I'm due tomorrow OP. I've been having period-type cramps and BH for weeks plus losing a lot of mucus. I had the same last time and I still went a week over. You'll drive yourself crazy analysing everything.

JasperDamerel Mon 10-Oct-16 22:33:09

It won't necessarily be very painful. My contractions with DC1 never got as bad as my worst bout of period pain.

Contractions, whether in early labour of active labour, felt like a sort of combination of bad period pain and trapped wind.

For most women (although not always), you will know that it is the real thing because instead of stopping when you have a nap or do something, they will get longer in duration and closer together, and they may feel more intense. They will probably start to follow a regular pattern, too. I used my contractions instead of a timer to cook pasta for the right length of time.

Diamondsandpears Mon 10-Oct-16 22:35:31

I was in hospital and nobody noticed! I was trying not to be a drama queen but did feel the need to pace the corridor but was early so assumed it must be BH!

NoCapes Mon 10-Oct-16 22:35:52

The person breaking out of your vag is generally a bit of an indicator grin

wobblywonderwoman Mon 10-Oct-16 22:39:58

Are you feeling the need to clean kitchen cupoboards or paint garden furniture grin

wobblywonderwoman Mon 10-Oct-16 22:41:30


Best laugh I have had all day ...
Think that might be a bit of a giveaway alright grin

TKRedLemonade Mon 10-Oct-16 22:43:29

Napqueen best description of labour pains ever!!!! I asked my sister the same question and she just burst out laughing and said you will know and then you will look back and think "what what I thinking!!!"

NoCapes Mon 10-Oct-16 22:44:07


originalusernamefail Mon 10-Oct-16 22:49:12

When it's time you will know. I've found that convincing everyone else is usually the problem! grin

minipie Mon 10-Oct-16 22:52:25

If you're not sure then wait a bit. If it goes away it wasn't labour. If it gets stronger and faster and more painful it is.

Lindt70Percent Thu 20-Oct-16 10:17:18

Well, I didn't know both times until the last 10 minutes.

First baby (born at 36+1), woke up early morning to go to the loo and when I got back into bed my waters trickled a bit and I started having regular contractions. Phoned hospital who weren't convinced but I went in anyway as we were a bit of a drive away and I wanted to avoid rush hour. Looking back it seems obvious it was labour as had to stop several times for contractions on the walk to the car. When I got to hospital they said they'd monitor me to see if I was in labour. No one was convinced I was until I suddenly felt panicky and they examined to discover I was fully dilated. Baby born 10 minutes later.

Second baby (born at 38w). Picked up first child from nursery and had a contraction in the car. Wasn't sure if it was BH or not. I'd had a load of regular BH that I couldn't talk through a few weeks before. Got home from nursery and phoned the hospital who said it sounded like early labour. However, I was having contractions while we were talking on the phone and I think they timed how long they were lasting as I couldn't talk through them. They sent a midwife round (had planned a homebirth) who arrived as the baby's head was crowning. 45 mins from 1st contraction to baby being born.

Either I dilated very quickly or I didn't notice until I was near 10cm. Both times it just seemed to start with contractions 2 mins long, 2 mins apart. So, when they started I wasn't sure if this was it and by the time I was sure then I was really close to the end.

Lizb1990 Thu 20-Oct-16 12:19:14

I have been experiencing the same symptoms! currently 36+1 too and this is my first smile been having period like cramps for about a week, loosing small amounts of plug, baby has been VERY active and lots more painful braxton hicks. Today I found myself doubled over with back pain and 'fanny daggers', was making some questionable noises because of it! thoroughly scared my DH who didnt want to go to work incase today was the day! Still having these pains in waves but nothing I can really time. hoping things are going to progress soon! fingers crossed for both of us! grin flowers

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