Prelabour is when a woman starts to feel some physical signs that labour could be starting. This could be one sign, or more likely a combination of physical signs such as a show, diarrhoea (or loose bowel motions), nausea, possibly vomiting, backache, period pain, perhaps the waters breaking or some mild to moderate regular or irregular contractions. During this time the cervix softens and ripens, thins out and starts to open slightly (or dilate) up to about one to three centimetres.

 

Physical signs for the woman during prelabour

 

Backache and period pain

 

During prelabour many women feel lower backache or dull throbbing pain, similar to period cramping. This discomfort can come and go, or it may be there all the time. This prelabour sign usually means the cervix is softening and ripening as the baby engages (or perhaps because the baby is in aposterior position - with their back is towards their mother's spine). Some women feel backache from their pelvis moving and shifting with relaxed pelvic ligaments. This pelvic flexibility allows your bones to open slightly in readiness for labour and the birth of your baby.

 

If you are feeling backache during the evening or night, try a heat pack or hot water bottle and return to bed. If you are unable to sleep, try just resting or If you are feeling achy during the day, rest as you need to or try and carry on as normal. Some women go out with friends, others stay close to home. It is important to keep your fluids up and eat, remember.....it is just the beginning

 

Mucus plug or bloody show

 

During pregnancy a woman's cervix produces thick mucus, filling the opening to act as a plug to seal the uterus. Towards the end of pregnancy, the cervix may start to thin and soften, sometimes releasing this mucus plug, known as a show. The show can come away during prelabour but it is not necessary for this to happen. More often than not, the show comes away during strong established labour, or when the cervix is fully dilated just before the pushing phase of labour.

 

A show can vary in colour from being, clear, yellow cream, greyish or more commonly blood-stained. The blood can be bright red, pink or dark brown in colour. If you do notice the mucus plug, but you have no contractions, this is an encouraging sign, but it is just that - a sign. It is best to just carry on as normal because for many women the show can come away days, or even a week or so before labour starts.

 

Women who contact their caregiver about having a show when nothing else is happening will often receive a polite acknowledge of their excitement and probably a response along the lines of "Call me again when something else happens."

 

 

Vomiting - feeling nauseated

 

Many women experience nausea and sometimes vomiting at some point in their labour process. Occasionally this can happen as part of prelabour, but it is more common during the active 1st stage of labour and transition.

 

If you do vomit, don't stop drinking, as sips of fluid will still be absorbed between the vomits. Try to eat and drink as much as you can tolerate, but don't force feed yourself. Even if you have water and light snacks, like soup, yoghurt, fruit, toast or muesli bars, this will help you keep energized and hydrated. Some women water down pear or apple juice if full-strength juice is too sweet. You should probably avoid acidic juices like pineapple and orange, as they may bring on heartburn (and it tastes terrible vomiting up orange juice!)

 

NOTE: If you are continuously vomiting and unable to keep anything down you should contact your caregiver. You may be able to have an injection or medicated suppository to help stop the vomiting for a few hours and allow you to re-hydrate.

 

 

 

 

 

*This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.

Pre Labour

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