17 early signs that labour is near

Discharge, lower back pain, needing to poo - these are just some of the symptoms that can mean you’re in early labour - according to our medical experts and mums


There are probably more early signs of labour than you might expect. While some are physical – various pains, and perhaps a ‘show’ of some kind, others are more emotional – and some are things you’d never even think could be a sign that labour’s approaching at all.


Take a look at the symptoms experts and our mums have told us were, for them, signs that labour was starting.

1. A ‘show’

Before labour starts, you might see a blob of mucus in your pants or when you go to the loo. This is the ‘show’, which has been sitting at the entrance to your cervix throughout pregnancy, helping to protect your baby from infection.

It’s a bit like an uncooked egg white with streaks of blood in it (sometimes). It means that the cervix is beginning to soften and possibly open up a little bit.

However, although a ‘show’ means some women will start to go into labour in the next few days – many do not. However if the bag of waters around your baby breaks, releasing the amniotic fluid, most women will then go into labour within 24 hours, but if this doesn’t happen you’ll probably be advised to have labour artificially started (induced) to reduce the likelihood of infection to your baby.

“I felt my plug come out,” says MilliesMummy.

‘I started to lose my mucus plug so I knew labour was on its way.’ – Beartobe

2. Lower back pain

Boots UK pharmacist Angela Chalmers says lower back pain is a key sign of early labour – and lots of our mums agree.

“I’ve had awful back ache for the last few days and really thought it may have been the start of things this morning,’ says hollysmumbump.

3. Braxton Hicks

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.

4. Loose bowels

A few of our mums have said they found they needed to poo more often before as labour was approaching.

BabyG269 says: “At 40 weeks plus 1 day said: ‘My bowels were certainly loose during the night.”

5. The feeling of needing to poo

Maybe you’re not actually going to the toilet more often – but feel as though you need to.

“The constant feeling of needing to poo in the week before giving birth were defo my symptoms,” BobbieRae.

“I have also been constipated for the last week or so but I’ve done little poops since yesterday and I keep feeling like I need to go but I don’t,” says Molly Connick

6. A ‘leaking’ feeling

Mum CherryValance sad she felt a “slight leaking sensation” during early labour – perhaps a sign your waters are starting to break.

7. A pressure feeling down below

While lots of mums felt actual pain, like period pains or pains in their lower back, others said they felt more of an intense feeling. “The pressure down below is unbearable,“ says Ebench13.

8. Vaginal pains

Now this isn’t one we’ve heard a lot – but one mum said she felt vaginal pains. “When I’m laying in bed I get random shooting pains.”

9. Your bump ‘drops’

As the baby moves into position your shape will change. ‘My bump has got smaller as the baby has dropped,” said emzy85

10. A change in your sleep patterns

Alison Edwards, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, says women may be more wakeful before they go into labour and some women find they can’t sleep – others, alternatively, reckon they sleep better.

MilliesMummy told us one of her early signs of labour was: “I slept really well the night before.”

“The last 2 or 3 nights [before labour] I’ve slept unusually poorly (hot, sweating, very restless).” Bethyo

11. Overwhelming emotions

As we’ve mentioned, not all signs that labour is approaching are physical – some of our mums reported heightened emotions some time before labour.

“I was…. overwhelmingly emotional about a week before,” says Angieta.

“I’m feeling hyper-emotional – just balled my eyes out for no reason,” agrees Pixiewoo.


12. Nesting

Lots of women report ‘nesting’ in the days running up to labour – feeling that they need to have everything ready for their baby, and are constantly cleaning and preparing, says midwife Anne Richley.

“I’ve gone into overdrive,” says Sam F. “I’ve got 5 kids and due with baby number 6 in 4 weeks time and I’ve been nesting too.

“I’ve spring cleaned my entire house several times this week already so I’m hoping I calm down for a couple of days now to preserve some energy for labour wen it does eventually start.”

13. Nervousness

Another feeling some mums say that have felt as an early sign of labour was nerves. “I had almost a nervous feeling in my tummy the few days running up,” says Angieta.

14. The feeling that labour is coming

For some mums they had a sense that labour was on its way. For example, Pixiewoo tells us: “I can’t shift the feeling that something’s gonna happen (it’s probably just wishful thinking).”

15. Your panty liner changes colour

OK, bear with us on this one. The AmnioSense diagnostic panty liner has been NICE approved and has a strip in the middle of it which changes colour when it comes into contact with amniotic fluid – if you’re wearing one towards the end of your pregnancy and it changes colour, it could be a sign your waters are breaking and labour could well be starting.

16. Your pets won’t leave you alone

We’ve heard said that your pets know can know before you do that you’re pregnant – apparently they can also sense that you might be going into labour. “My cat is prowling round and won’t leave me alone for very long,” Pixiewoo tells us.

15. Your ears glow

OK, Ok, so we admit – this isn’t one we’ve heard a lot – but we have had a mum, Helen B, who visited an acupuncture expert around her due date and was told she sensed that her ‘ears were glowing’ – and that she would go into labour in the next couple of days (which she did).

17. Your mum tells you it’s about to happen

This is definitely a case of mother knows best. One of our mums told us she visited her mum, not too near her due date – in fact 3 weeks before her due date with her first child – and her mum touched her bump and told her: “That baby’s coming”. Her waters broke juts a few hours later and she had the baby the next day. 😲

What do you think?

What did you experience before labour – did you have any signs that labour was near? Tell us in the comments below rover on Facebook

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