Labour is the series of uterine contractions that dilate (open) and efface (thin) your cervix for birth. Your due date is a guide to when labour will begin, but babies often come days or weeks before or after due dates. Even so, labour need not take you by surprise. In the last weeks of pregnancy, you or your healthcare provider may notice changes indicating that labour is near.

Your body prepares

Physical changes often signal that your baby will soon be born:

  • Discharge from your vagina may increase and become thicker. You may notice a pink or brownish discharge called the ‘bloody show’.

  • The mucous plug may break down over a few weeks or all
    at once. Losing the plug doesn’t mean that labour will start right away.

  • You may feel Braxton Hicks contractions (false labour). These irregular contractions start to soften and thin the cervix. Many women mistake these contractions for true labour.

Challenging positions

If your baby is not in a safe position for birth, or if there is a problem with the placenta, you may need special care. A Caesarean may also be needed. Common problems include:

Your baby moves into position

Babies often move down between the pelvic bones (descend) before birth. If this is your first pregnancy, this may happen 2-4 weeks before labour. With repeat pregnancies, the baby may not ‘drop’ until labour begins. The baby usually moves down head first. When the baby drops, you may find it easier to breathe. You may also feel more pressure on your bladder, causing you to urinate more often.

Source: MIMS HealthToday Malaysia