1) Nesting

“Nesting is usually something that only occurs towards the end of your pregnancy, and shows labour is imminent,” says doula Lucy Symons.


“It’s a totally irresistible need to tidy, sort, clean and clear, and can be logical (painting the baby’s room) or bonkers (I had a client who insisted on getting her wedding dress out of the attic and ironing it). It’s always a good idea to indulge these urges as you may find you don’t relax fully until everything on your list of ‘things to do’ is done.”

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2) Leaving work and starting maternity leave

  • You can start your maternity leave any time from 11 weeks before the beginning of the week when your baby’s due.
  • As your maternity leave gets closer, work with your employer to make things easy for whoever is covering for you during your absence.
  • Arrange a handover meeting where you can pass on your work. This makes it easier for the person stepping in to your role, and can leave you free to enjoy your leave without the worry.

3) What maternity pay do I get?

You’re entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if you have been in your job for at least 26 weeks from the first day of the 15th week before the week your baby is due. To qualify, you must also earn an average £95 or more a week before tax.

If you receive SMP, your employer will pay you 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first six weeks of your maternity leave. For the remaining 33 weeks you will be paid £128.73 a week, or 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings depending on which is lower.

You will pay tax and National Insurance on your Statutory Maternity Pay in the same way as on your regular wages.

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If you don’t qualify for SMP you’re likely to get Maternity Allowance, which is £123.06 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) paid for up to 39 weeks from when you leave work.

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4) What to pack in your hospital bag

“I took my favourite shower gel and washing things, along with hand cream to make me feel like ‘myself’. I also found Lansinoh nipple cream was an essential, and I made sure my mobile phone and camera were charged. Among the boring stuff were more maternity pads than I imagined using, plus disposable pants,” said Jo Holland, 36, from Kent, mum to Harry, 10, Bridie, 9, Erin, 7, Arthur, 4, Arwen, 2, Matilda, 19 months and Merlin, 5 months, on what was in her hospital bag.

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5) What is Braxton Hicks?

“Braxton Hicks are practice contractions,” explains doula Lucy Symons. “What you’re feeling is your uterus tightening and then releasing again, and it’s quite normal to experience this occasionally through your pregnancy, but most usually towards the end of the third trimester."

"Your entire tummy will tighten when you have a Braxton Hicks contraction, and can remain tight for a few seconds. There can be discomfort when you experience one and it may even stop you in your tracks, but generally they’re uncomfortable more than actually painful. Think of them as practice contractions and a good thing to help you get ready for childbirth,” explains Lucy.

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6) Signs you're ready for your baby

  • A ‘show’ is where the mucus plug is released from the neck of your cervix, and can occur a massive two weeks before you actually go into labour.
  • You might notice you’re pooing more than usual – and this is clever old mother nature’s way of clearing out your body ready for labour.
  • If your waters begin leaking (and sometimes it can be a tiny, little drip, not the gush you may see in films), contact your midwife or the hospital straight away so they can check your progress and assess whether you need to go into hospital.
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7) Key dates

So it’s you’re due date, but don’t panic if there’s no sign of your baby’s grand arrival. In fact, it’s estimated less than 5% of babies are actually born on their due date.


According to NHS Choices, "Most women go into labour spontaneously by the time they are 42 weeks pregnant.Induction is offered to all women who don't go into labour by 42 weeks. If your pregnancy lasts longer than 42 weeks and you decide not to have your labour induced you should be offered increased monitoring to check your baby's wellbeing".