Planning ahead will help you when your labour starts. Talk to your midwife or doctor about your plans for early labour and when they want you to contact them.
It's best to call your doctor or midwife if you suspect you are in the early stages of labour. You can tell you're in this stage when you are:
Having contractions that are regular and uncomfortable, usually 3-5 minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds
Leaking or your water breaks.
Having vaginal bleeding, or show (pink tinged vaginal mucus).
KEY: If your baby stops moving or moves less than usual, you're unsure or have concerns or if you've been advised to call for other reasons, call your health care provider immediately.
It can be hard to know if you are in labour or having pre-labour contractions. If you're still not sure if you are experiencing pre-labour or true labour, follow these tips:
If it's night time, try to sleep. You need to be well rested for childbirth. In true labour, you may not be able to sleep but will at least rest. If you fall asleep, it's most likely pre-labour.
Take a shower. The contractions in pre-labour will often become less frequent and shorter. In true labour, the contractions will continue no matter what you are doing and taking a shower can be comforting.
Distract yourself. Watch a movie, walk in the garden, play cards. If you are in true labour, the contractions will demand your attention. If it's pre-labour, you may be able to carry on with your usual routines.
Signs of early first stage labour include:
Try and rest as much as possible during early labour, eat a light meal, carry on with your regular activities. Here are some tips for coping with early labour.
If you membranes rupture, and you are in very early labour. You will likely return home to wait for labour to start.