signs of labour approaching

You are probably here because you are sick of being pregnant and ready to meet your baby. Maybe you’ve had some weird symptoms and are wondering if this is it, are these early signs of labour approaching?

Well, search no further! This labour nurse will guide you through all the signs that might mean that your labour is finally approaching! I’ve seen so many women come into hospital unsure of what is going on. Are they in labour? Are they close to being in labour? If you’ve never had a baby before, it’s normal to be unsure and questioning whether what you are feeling is normal.

Don’t worry mama! I’ll walk you through it all.

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signs of labour approaching

The following 6 things are signs that your labour is approaching! It might not mean that you are going to have your baby today, but it probably means that it’ll be baby time soon enough. Most of them have to do with fun bodily functions, haha, hopefully, you’re not easily grossed out!

Oh, and everything in this post is pertaining to a normal healthy full term (38-42 week) pregnancy.

First Sign That Labour is Approaching: Your Baby Drops

So this can be a tricky one.

If this is your first baby, your baby will probably drop before labour, but if this is your second or third baby, they might not drop until you are in active labour!

What do I mean by your baby dropping? Well literally speaking, your baby will be lower in your pelvis than before. So instead of being high up in your torso, making it hard for you to breathe, your baby will be lower down in your pelvis. Probably wreaking havoc on your bladder!

If you look at yourself in the mirror, you’ll probably even see a difference in your profile.

By the way, if you hear your doc or midwife use the term “lightening” or “engagement” it’s the same thing as dropping!

Change in Vaginal Discharge

Before labour approaches, you might notice a change in your vaginal discharge.

It’ll get thicker and you might notice it is more of an eggwhite consistency or even pink-tinged.

This is actually caused by hormonal changes and is not the same as your “bloody show” which I will talk about next.

Heavy bleeding is NOT normal and you should definitely talk to your health care provider if you are experiencing lots of bleeding.

Bloody Show and the Infamous Mucus Plug

Your mucus plug seals the cervix during your pregnancy and it prevents infection. It’s basically a lot of mucus that comes out at once and might be a bit blood tinged. Once labour is approaching, it typically comes out of the cervix due to dilation. That being said, just because your mucus plug is out, it doesn’t mean your baby is coming within the next few hours.

I see so many women in triage that think their labour must have started because they lost their mucus plug. And while losing the plug is a great sign that your labour might be approaching soon, it’s hard to predict exactly when that is going to happen!

It can be scary to see blood after going through your whole pregnancy without bleeding. But please don’t be alarmed! Once you are full term and labour is approaching, it can be totally normal to see some blood. It’s actually a good sign, and means that your cervix is probably changing! That’s what your provider calls “bloody show”.

If your mucus plug comes out or you have some bloody show, but you don’t have any other signs of labour approaching, you should just hang tight and wait. Sometimes the mucus plug regenerates and labour starts a couple of days or weeks later (unfortunately 🙁 ).

If you have any concerns, like heavy bleeding or anything else, call your health care provider or go to the hospital.

Habibi House has a great post on this exact topic! And the writer is an L&D nurse as well, she knows her stuff! Check it out here

Stronger Braxton Hicks Contractions

When labour is approaching, your Braxton Hicks contractions will become stronger. Instead of just being mild tightenings, you’ll feel more crampy, kind of like you’re on the first or second day of your period. These contractions might even be changing your cervix! You might not be opening up as of yet, but these contractions will soften your cervix and possibly thin it out a bit (effacement).

They are different from actual labour contractions in the sense that they’re not as strong, they’re not regular and they’re usually short. Strong Braxton Hicks contractions usually stop for a period of time as well, they’re not consistent. Actual labour contractions get stronger over time, but these ones can fade away.

Unfortunately, some women experience this early phase of early labour for days and days.

I’m sorry if that’s you, mama! It can be SOOOO tiring. Try to take it easy. Take care of yourself and treat yourself to long naps and baths. Do anything that relieves the pain and know that all this will be over soon enough!

I love meditating for relaxation, why don’t you try out Expectful! It’s an awesome meditation app, especially for pregnant women.

Again, if you’re not sure what is going on and you think your contractions are actual labour, head on in to the hospital to get checked out!

Want to find out what labour feels like? Find out in this post right here on Babytalk: What Does Childbirth Feel Like?

Diarrhea or Frequent Bowel Movements

I know gross right?

This fun part of pregnancy is brought to you by your crazy hormones! The hormones cause cramping that causes loose and frequent bowel movements. Yay! You might even feel a touch nauseated, just for the heck of it.

This is nature’s way of emptying your bowels before birth. Which is kinda a good thing, maybe you won’t poop on the delivery table! You know they used to give all women enemas before birth so this is definitely a much better option!

free printable birth affirmations

Rupture of Membranes – Your Water Breaks!

This would actually be a premature rupture of membranes if you aren’t actually in labour yet. About 10% of women have their water break before being in labour. It’s not like the movies, it’s actually quite rare for your water to break first and then go into labour.

If it does break, most women go into labour in the next few hours. Depending on your provider, they might want to induce your contractions if they don’t start on their own within a certain time period (usually 12-24 hours) because you are at a higher risk for infection once the bag of waters is broken.

See more about induction from Babytalk: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Inductions

So if your water breaks, call the hospital (if that’s where you are delivering) to find out what to do next. They’ll probably tell you to come in so they can check if it is actually amniotic fluid and not pee.

You’d be surprised how many women thought their water was broken, but it turned out they just peed themselves!

Just FYI, avoid sex if your waters are actually broken. Anything up your vagina can cause an infection.


So that’s it! All the gory details about what you might expect when labour is approaching. What signs did you have when your labour was approaching? Anything wild or weird?

Please comment and share below!


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About the Author

Hanna is passionate nurse and mama of four babies. Parenthood can be hard, but you don't have to do it alone. Hanna is here for you from pregnancy, to birth and beyond!

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