Early signs of labour

Every woman’s experience of labour is different. But there are several signs to look out for that may suggest your labour is starting. You may experience:

  • A ‘show’ – this is a pinky/brown jelly like mucus plug that comes away from your cervix. 
  • Tummy pain – this can feel like strong period pains and will come and go and be the start of contractions.
  • Pain/achy feeling in your lower back.
  • The need to open your bowels. This is because the baby’s head presses on your bowel.
  • Your waters may break – this can be in a big gush or may just be a trickle of water.

If you experience any of these signs or anything that is concerning you please call the 24 hour Call a Midwife Advice Line on 0300 123 5473 and they will be able to advise you what to do. It is very important you call for advice straight away if you experience any vaginal bleeding, any change in your baby’s movements or if your waters break and the fluid is greeny or brown in colour.

Early labour is also called the latent stage of labour and can last hours and even days before labour fully establishes. If you have no concerning factors and are more than 37 weeks pregnant with an uncomplicated pregnancy you may be advised to stay at home until you are having regular, strong contractions. The Call a Midwife Advice Line is available to support you through this time if you have any questions or worries. Please do not worry about wasting their time, they are very used to advising women in early labour.

For more information please visit:

NHS Signs that labour has begun

Tommy’s pregnancy information