As labour approaches

As labour approaches you may encounter the following.

A show

A mucous plug of sticky mucus discharged from the Vagina. Sometimes the Show will be clear in colour and other times it will be bloody red or brown or streaked with blood. A show may appear up to a couple of weeks before labour starts, it may only happen as you go into established labour, or you may not even notice one at all! Having a show does not mean you need to come into hospital, or even inform your midwife, unless you are concerned the vaginal discharge is very bloody.

Rupture of Membranes

This is when the sack containing the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby breaks (a hole is created), and releases some of the fluid via the vagina. The fluid should be clear or straw coloured. Sometimes the fluid will be slightly pinkish in colour where the vascular cervix is starting to open. However if the fluid is very pink or red you will need to go to Delivery Suite/Labour Ward straight away for monitoring. Also if the fluid is green or brown (meconium stained) that will indicate that the baby has opened it’s bowels whilst inside which may indicate simply that your baby is now mature and ready to be born, or could be a sign of previous or current distress of the baby. Green or Brown coloured fluid also means that you will need to go straight to Delivery Suite/Labour Ward for monitoring.

When “The Waters go” there may be a pop, and a gush of fluid from the Vagina which will soak through your underwear and clothing and continue to leak until baby is born; sometimes you will just notice the occasional small trickle of fluid; and sometimes you may just feel your underwear or sanitary pad is constantly damp although you do not notice any fluid actually leaking out.

Whether you are definite or unsure if the waters have gone you need to put on a sanitary pad, make a note of the time and the colour of the fluid, and phone Delivery Suite to tell us what is happening.

Occasionally “The Waters break” quite a few weeks before baby is due, sometimes they will go a day or two before labour, often once you are in established labour and other times not until you are pushing and we start to see baby’s head!

Nesting Syndrome

Possibly just an “Old Wives Tale” but some people believe that just prior to going into labour women may become Domestic Goddesses and start cleaning the house top-to-bottom – Getting their ‘nest’ ready. So if you are normally happy to be surrounded by mess, but suddenly have to clean out the airing cupboard and polish all your ornaments you may be going to go into labour in the next few days.

Nausea, Vomiting and Diarrhoea

Some women will feel quite nauseous before they go into labour, some women also feel sick during the labour. Women also may Vomit or have diarrhoea before or during labour. As long as you can tolerate plenty of oral fluids that is fine, but if you can’t keep any food or fluids down you may need to have a drip to re-hydrate you.


This is when the Uterus/Womb becomes contracted or tenses and then relaxes again. The contractions will probably start coming occasionally, just lasting a few seconds and be mild in strength. When you are ready to give birth and start pushing the contractions will be three to five every 10 minutes and last approx 60 seconds, they will be strong and you will probably find them quite painful. The contraction comes on like a wave of intensity – starting off mildly and increasing in discomfort/pain as the Uterus becomes more contracted and harder, before gradually relaxing and becoming comfortable again. Contractions may be felt just across the abdomen, also in the back and occasionally going down the top of the legs. Each woman will feel the contractions differently and will be able to cope with or without pain relief in different ways.

Contractions can sometimes occur for a few days until they become consistently regular and frequent and you are in established labour, in that time it is important you keep drinking plenty of fluids, have regular small meals and snacks, and alternate periods of activity and moving around with periods of resting.

If you think you are in labour

If you think you are in labour between 8.30am and 7.00pm (seven days a week), please ring the triage number 0300 131 5341 and they will advise you. Outside of these times, please ring the place you are planning to give birth – the number is on the front of your notes. In an emergency situation, ring 999 and ask for an ambulance.

All women with previous quick labours will have discussion with their midwife and/or obstetrician to formulate a plan for delivery following review of their notes.

We also advise that you do a practice run to the place you are planning to give birth so you have an idea of how long the journey will take and can familiarise yourself with where you will need to go, parking arrangements etc.

We provide this service at

Conquest Hospital

The Ridge, St Leonards-on-Sea
East Sussex, TN37 7RD
0300 131 4500

Eastbourne District General Hospital

Kings Drive, Eastbourne
East Sussex, BN21 2UD
0300 131 4500