Going into labour


What to expect

Term pregnancy, the time you can expect your baby to arrive, is anywhere between 37 weeks to 42 weeks gestation. Only 5% of babies will actually arrive on their estimated due date (EDD) so be patient, trust your body and wait for your baby to stimulate the hormones which will start your labour. There are plenty of old wives tales about how to get labour started from eating pineapple to having sex but none are proven methods nor evidence based.

How will I know if my waters have broken?

When your waters break (spontaneous rupture of membranes –SROM) it may or may not be the dramatic gush of fluid you expect, sometimes there may be a small trickle of fluid which can leave you feeling uncertain. It is important to call your midwife and be reviewed as the membranes breaking can increase exposure to infection for your baby.

There is no hard and fast rule as to when your waters break; your waters may break followed shortly by contractions; your waters may break and no contraction follow resulting in induction of labour; you may be experiencing strong, regular contractions in established labour and your waters break before your baby delivers or your baby may be born en caul which is when the membranes are intact.

It is important to monitor the colour of amniotic fluid as if the fluid is meconium stained – green in colour, then your baby has opened its bowels in utero. This can be a sign of post maturity but can also signify distress so it is vital to closely monitor your baby's heart rate.

When should I call the midwife?

  • If you have any concerns about baby's movements.
  • Persistent itching on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet.
  • If your waters have broken.
  • If you are bleeding vaginally.
  • If you feel unwell for example – severe headaches, visual disturbances, epigastric pain or swelling.
  • Persistent abdominal pain.
  • Strong, regular contractions typically felt in either your uterus or lower back and usually occurring every 4-5 minutes and each contraction lasting 45-60 seconds.
  • If you are worried or concerned.