Early signs of labour

Signs that labour is around the corner and your body is preparing to give birth

1 of

Ad break

  • Not many labours are a surprise!

    When labour arrives, chances are you’ll know all about it. But before the contractions become more regular and painful, and before you’re anywhere near the pushing phase, there are some subtle signs that your body is getting ready to give birth.

    Find out what to look out for...

  • Lightening – your baby gets into position

    In the weeks before you give birth, your baby will move down in your abdomen, towards the birth canal. The pressure you may have been feeling on your lungs lessens, which is where the term 'lightening' comes from. This is more noticeable in your first pregnancy. Occasionally a baby can be positioned the wrong way round, known as breech, and may need turning.

  • Upset stomach or diarrhoea

    A sensitive stomach can occur during labour and is thought to be caused by the changes in hormones that tell your body it’s ready give birth. So as the hormone levels begin to increase prior to labour you may suffer from vomiting or diarrhoea.

  • Braxton Hicks – practice contractions

    As your hormones change your cervix will become more flexible and may start to tense in a kind of practice contraction. Some mums experience this earlier in pregnancy and no one’s 100% sure why they happen. Known as Braxton Hicks, these practice contractions are less regular than true contractions and don’t usually hurt. You might notice a tightening of your bump and it can be quite uncomfortable.

  • Continue slideshow >

  • Vaginal discharge leading up to a bloody show

    It doesn't sound like much fun but it's just your vagina preparing to stretch and allow your baby to pass through. You may notice an increase in vaginal discharge as you approach labour. The culmination of this will be the passing of a mucus plug, which is sometimes known as a “bloody show” or "show". This is what has been sealing up and protecting the entrance to your uterus while your baby grows so when you pass it, it’s nearly time for your baby to make an appearance.

    It doesn't happen to all women, however, don't worry if you don't notice anything until your waters break.

  • Weight… loss?

    As you reach full term, you may find that you stop gaining weight and could even lose a pound or two. This is as your body feels it has gained enough weight to prepare itself for the hard work of labour and it’s just a waiting game now!

  • Nesting instinct intensifies

    As well as the physical signs your labour is nearing and your baby’s ready to be born, you may notice emotional changes too. You may have already felt an instinct during your pregnancy that helps you prepare to become a mum. Even if you haven’t, this feeling could start or become stronger as labour approaches.


    More labour and birth info