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Everyone worries about whether they will know they are in labour. Our checklist this week will help you decide whether it’s the real thing.
If this is your first baby, it’s easy to think ‘this is it’, only to find you are just getting ready for labour.
In the week or so before labour you may notice:
When you go into labour you may notice:
Your unborn baby floats in amniotic fluid, a straw-coloured liquid, mainly consisting of water. Labour begins, for some women, with the waters breaking. If the waters go with a gush, contact your LMC or maternity unit. You may be asked to go into the unit so that they can check that the baby is well. It will help your LMC if you can remember when the waters broke, roughly how much fluid there was (an egg cup full, a coffee cup full?) and what colour it was. Amniotic fluid is usually pale. If it is green or has black bits in it, this may show that the baby is in distress.
If the waters trickle out, it can be hard to decide if they have gone. Put a sanitary pad on and, if it is wet after an hour, it’s probably the waters leaking. Smell the pad; urine smells, amniotic fluid doesn’t. If you are still not sure, contact your LMC or the hospital. Your midwife can do a vaginal examination and test the fluid.
Call your LMC if you have:
A few babies will be breech or bottom down at this stage. It’s now usual to deliver a breech baby by caesarean section. Some doctors try to turn breech babies using a procedure called External Cephalic Version (ECV). It sounds complicated, but it just means that a doctor will put her hands on your bump, find your baby’s head and bottom, and ‘follow the baby’s nose’ in order to turn him so he’s head down. ECV is generally carried out at about 37-38 weeks of pregnancy under ultrasound guidance in hospital. This works for around half of all breech babies, who then go on to be born in the normal way.
If you have backache in early labour, try these self-help tips