What Are The Signs That Birthing Has Started?

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What Are The Signs That Birthing Has Started?

There may be a combination of the following as indications that birthing has begun:

▪ A show - this is a discharge of blood and mucus from the vagina up to a few days before or during the early first stage of labour. It occurs as the protective plug from the neck of the uterus is shed - sometimes a week or 2 before birth, sometimes we don’t see it at all.

▪ Waters leak or break - the bag of fluid surrounding the baby breaks, releasing its contents in a flood or more commonly if the baby’s head is fully engaged, a trickle. Contact your midwife if this happens because of the risk of infection. A high percentage of women go into labour within 24hours of the waters going.

▪ Regular contractions - these may be felt initially as a constant, nagging backache, mildly painful contractions in the lower back or abdomen. They are sometimes described in the early stages as being like period pains.

In the early stages while the cervix dilates to the first 4 cm, contractions will each last between 50-60 seconds, probably between 5 and 10 minutes apart. It can start and stop. Women should let the labour ward know and follow their midwife’s instructions.

What should we do?

▪ Birth partners can keep an eye on how long each lasts and how often.

▪ Unless the contractions are very painful or every 5 minutes apart already, stay at home.

▪ It can be very exciting but encourage women to contain their energy – they will need it over the coming hours! If it is nighttime, try to sleep.

▪ They may not feel normal - they may want to eat, then not. May want to drink, then not. May be hot, then cold. Being so changeable can feel a bit odd and alarming, but be assured, this is just contractions of birthing hormones through the body. Remind them to not be alarmed, just go with it.

▪ Gentle mobility (introduce a few movements - circles of the hips, pelvic tilts, perhaps on all fours if more comfy).

▪ Drink plenty of fluids and keep peeing.

▪ Eat small snacks or a light meal.

▪ Relax and rest – practice some calm, focused, deep yoga breathing.

▪ Start to tune into your body and its rhythms.

▪ Stay positive - say a few positive affirmations.

When to go to hospital?

Always call the midwife/hospital first before setting off. Usually midwives think you are ready to make the journey when you have had 3 contractions lasting roughly 1min long in 10 mins, and that’s been going on for about 30 mins.

With that said, birth is not an exact science. Midwives are very skilled but you know your body best. If you feel you need to go to hospital but your midwife is insisting that you should stay at home you have a decision to make. Some women progress faster than others for no known reason and may dilate well and easily in the beginning giving the outward impression that not much is going on. Other women may not and will look like a lot is going on when not much is happening.

Lots of our mums feel so relaxed and calm that it can be hard for the midwives to accurately assess your progression based on your outward appearance.

You may reach full dilation earlier than expected so please let your Midwife know that you have been going to your LushTums Classes and working with these Birthing Hypno-Quests and that your ability to move through each contraction may seem easier than for other women.

Trust you instincts. It is important that you know that if you make that journey and you aren’t far enough along you may get sent home again.

You will only be allowed access to the birthing rooms or labour ward until you are 4cm’s dilated.

Don’t worry in advance. Stay calm, you will know what to do by listening to your body. If you are unsure you have the midwives to advise you.