Has got to be “How do I know when I’m actually in labour?”


Here are a few of the most common signs that mums from mums net have noted which indicated the first signs of labour:

Upset stomach

  • Tummy upsets can be an early sign, or can cause labour to start. (Alice)
  • Woke up at 1am with what felt like constipation. Endless labour after that with contractions never further than five mins apart from start to finish. (Hannah)
  • I had to rush to the loo at about 7pm and emptied my bowels very dramatically! (Sarah)


  •  I was woken at 4.30am with an uncomfortable feeling in my lower back, it took a little while at first to work out what it was. I didn’t realise – and nobody told me – you could get labour pains in your back. (Georgia)
  • I had a dull backache for a day or two (which I really didn’t even associate with labour since it was well over a week until my due date) before the ever-delightful ‘show’ appeared one morning in the shower. (Helene)


  • I felt like I was getting my period and was just uncomfortable. Was three weeks early, so took a few hours to twig what was going on. I packed my hospital bag as the contractions started to kick in. (Becky)
  • Irregular, stabby contractions – didn’t actually feel any tightening but just on-off sensations in my hips. With my first child these lasted about two hours, with my fourth it started the day before, stopped, then started again in the early hours of the morning, I got up, went to the toilet and my waters broke. (Hen)

A show

  • Two days of period style pains and a bit of pinky mucus. (Sophie)
  • Had a show – a sort of small, slimy bit of discharge vaguely brown/red/creamish. (Julia)

Your waters breaking

  • First sign for me was 50 million gallons of water pouring out from me and ruining the mattress. (Jude)
  • I was sitting on the sofa eating rice and watching Kill Bill, no labour signs, no niggles, nothing, when whoooooooosh. Contractions started within seconds. (Greta)

Nesting instinct

  • I had a desperate urge to tidy the house. I scrubbed and washed up and dusted, while thinking “these Braxton Hicks contractions are getting really strong…” (Pippa)
  • An irresistible urge to iron all the table napkins we own. Never done it before or since.(Charlotte)
  • I thought I could get in behind my fridge to clean the floor the day before my son came. (Lucy)
  • I march around issuing orders “that skirting board has to be painted NOW! How can I bring a baby into this house?!” I also iron duvet covers. (Karen)

Burst of energy

  • I woke up at 2am and felt really energetic and loose jointed, I was sitting on the stairs stretching open my hips without really knowing what I was doing. Also, adrenaline, and lots of excitement. (Camilla)
  • I felt eerily great the day before – did a big food shop and remember noticing my pelvis wasn’t aching like it had been for months and I didn’t feel tired. (Cassy)
  • I leapt up and took the dog for a walk. I had so much energy the dog couldn’t keep up with me! I could’ve run the whole way. Two hours later little man was born.(Natasha)

Don’t forget to time your surges hypnobirthing mums – that way you’ll have a good idea of how long you’ve been going for and how long you have in-between surges 🙂