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Sign for delivery baby: Signs that labour has begun

Signs that labour has begun

Know the signs

There are several signs that labour might be starting, including:

  • contractions or tightenings
  • a “show”, when the plug of mucus from your cervix (entrance to your womb, or uterus) comes away
  • backache
  • an urge to go to the toilet, which is caused by your baby’s head pressing on your bowel
  • your waters breaking

The early (latent) stage of labour can take some time.

Urgent advice: Call your midwife or maternity unit if:

  • your waters break
  • you have vaginal bleeding
  • your baby is moving less than usual
  • you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant and think you might be in labour

These signs mean you need to see a midwife or doctor.

Latent phase of labour

The start of labour is called the latent phase. This is when your cervix becomes soft and thin, and starts opening for your baby to be born. This can take hours or sometimes days.

You’ll probably be advised to stay at home during this time. If you go to the hospital or maternity unit, they may suggest you go back home.

Find out more about the stages of labour and what you can do at home during the latent phase.

Call your midwife if you’re unsure or worried about anything.

What do contractions feel like

When you have a contraction, your womb tightens and then relaxes. For some people, contractions may feel like extreme period pains. 

You may have had contractions during your pregnancy, particularly towards the end. These tightenings are called Braxton Hicks contractions and are usually painless.

Your contractions tend to become longer, stronger and more frequent as your labour progresses. During a contraction, the muscles tighten and the pain increases. If you put your hand on your abdomen, you’ll feel it getting harder; when the muscles relax, the pain fades and you will feel the hardness ease.

The contractions are pushing your baby down and opening the entrance to your womb (the cervix), ready for your baby to go through.

Your midwife will probably advise you to stay at home until your contractions become frequent. 

Call your midwife or maternity unit for guidance when your contractions are in a regular pattern and:

  • last at least 60 seconds
  • come every 5 minutes or
  • you think you are in labour

Read more information on when to go to hospital

Backache often comes on in labour

You may get backache or a heavy, aching feeling.

A “show” can signal the start of labour

During pregnancy, there’s a plug of mucus in your cervix. This mucus comes away just before labour starts, or when in early labour, and it may pass out of your vagina. This sticky, jelly-like pink mucus is called a show.

It may come away in 1 blob or in several pieces. It’s pink because it contains a small amount of blood.

If you’re losing more blood, it may be a sign something is wrong, so phone your hospital or midwife straight away.

A show indicates that the cervix is starting to open. Labour may quickly follow or may take a few days. Sometimes there is no show.

What happens when my waters break

It’s likely your waters will break during labour, but it can also happen before labour starts.

Your baby develops and grows inside a bag of fluid called the amniotic sac. When it’s time for your baby to be born, the sac usually breaks and the amniotic fluid drains out through your vagina. This is your waters breaking. Sometimes when you’re in labour, a midwife or doctor may offer to break your waters.

If your waters break naturally, you may feel a slow trickle or a sudden gush of water you cannot control. To prepare for this, you could keep a sanitary towel (but not a tampon) handy if you’re going out, and put a protective sheet on your bed.

Amniotic fluid is clear and pale. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell amniotic fluid from urine. When your waters break, the water may be a little bloodstained to begin with.

Tell your midwife immediately if:

  • the waters are smelly or coloured
  • you’re losing blood

This could mean you and your baby need urgent attention.

If your waters break before labour starts, call your midwife. Use a sanitary pad (not a tampon) so your midwife can check the colour of the waters.

If labour does not start after your waters break

It’s usual to go into labour within 24 hours of the waters breaking. You’ll be offered an induction if you do not because, without amniotic fluid, there’s an increased risk of infection for your baby.

Until your induction, or if you choose to wait for labour to start naturally, tell your midwife immediately if:

  • your baby moves less than usual
  • there’s any change in the colour or smell of any fluid coming from your vagina

You should take your temperature every 4 hours when you’re awake, and tell your midwife if it’s raised. A raised temperature is usually above 37.5C, but you may need to call before this – check with your midwife.

There’s no evidence that having a bath or shower after your waters have broken increases your risk of infection, but having sex might.

How to cope when labour begins

At the beginning of labour, you can:

  • walk or move about, if you feel like it
  • drink fluids – you may find sports (isotonic) drinks help keep your energy levels up
  • have a snack, if you feel like it
  • try any relaxation and breathing exercises you’ve learned to deal with contractions as they get stronger and more painful – your birth partner can help by doing these with you
  • have your birth partner rub your back – this can help relieve pain
  • take paracetamol according to the instructions on the packet – paracetamol is safe to take in labour
  • have a warm bath

Find out what happens during labour and birth, and what you can do for pain relief in the early stages of labour.

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Video: How will I know I am in labour?

In this video, a midwife describes the signs that mean labour may be starting.

Media last reviewed: 1 November 2022
Media review due: 1 November 2025

Community content from HealthUnlocked

Contractions and signs of labor

Learning the signs of labor before your due date can help you feel ready for your baby’s birth.

Signs of labor include strong and regular contractions, pain in your belly and lower back, a bloody mucus discharge and your water breaking.

If you think you’re in labor, call your health care provider.

Not all contractions mean you’re in true labor.

Learning the difference between true and false labor can help you know when it’s the real thing.

What is labor?

Labor (also called childbirth) is the process of your baby leaving the uterus (womb). You’re in labor when you have regular contractions that cause your cervix to change. Contractions are when the muscles of your uterus get tight and then relax. Contractions help push your baby out of your uterus. Your cervix is the opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina. When labor starts, your cervix dilates (opens up).

As you get closer to your due date, learning the signs of labor can help you feel ready for labor and birth. If you have any signs of labor, call your health care provider.

What are the signs of labor?

You know you’re in true labor when:

  • You have strong and regular contractions. A contraction is when the muscles of your uterus tighten up like a fist and then relax. Contractions help push your baby out. When you’re in true labor, your contractions last about 30 to 70 seconds and come about 5 to 10 minutes apart. They’re so strong that you can’t walk or talk during them. They get stronger and closer together over time.
  • You feel pain in your belly and lower back. This pain doesn’t go away when you move or change positions.
  • You have an increase in vaginal discharge that can be clear, pink or slightly bloody (brownish or reddish). This is called bloody show. It can happen a few days before labor or at the beginning of labor. If you have bright red bleeding or if the bleeding is heavy, tell your provider right away.
  • Your water breaks. Your baby has been growing in amniotic fluid (the bag of waters) in your uterus. When the bag of waters breaks, you may feel a big rush of water. Or you may feel just a trickle. 

If you think you’re in labor, call your health care provider, no matter what time of day or night. Your provider can tell you if it’s time to head for the hospital. To see for sure that you’re in labor, your health care provider measures your cervix.

What are signs that you may be close to starting labor?

You may be close to starting labor if:

  • Your baby drops or moves lower into your pelvis. This is called lightening. It means that your baby is getting ready to move into position for birth. It can happen a few weeks or even just a few hours before your labor begins.
  • You have an increase in vaginal discharge that’s clear, pink or slightly bloody. This is called show or bloody show. It can happen a few days before labor starts or at the beginning of labor.
  • At a prenatal checkup, your health care provider tells you that your cervix has begun to efface (thin) and dilate (open). Before labor, your cervix is about 3.5 to 4 centimeters long. When it’s fully dilated (open) for labor, it’s 10 centimeters. Once labor starts, contractions help open your cervix.
  • You have the nesting instinct. This is when you want to get things organized in your home to get ready for your baby. You may want to do things like cook meals or get the baby’s clothes and room ready. Doing these things is fine as long as you’re careful not to overdo it. You need your energy for labor and birth.

If you have any of these signs, you may start labor soon. Learn the signs of labor so you know when to call your provider.

What are false labor and Braxton-Hicks contractions?

Not all contractions mean you’re in labor. You may have contractions on and off before true labor starts. These contractions are called false labor or Braxton-Hicks contractions. They soften and thin the cervix to help your body get ready for labor and birth. You may feel them in the weeks right before your due date. Learning the differences between true labor contractions and false labor contractions can help you know when you’re really in labor.

It can be hard to tell the difference between true labor and false labor. When you first feel contractions, time them. Write down how much time it takes from the start of one contraction to the start of the next. Make a note of how strong the contractions feel. Keep a record of your contractions for 1 hour. Walk or move around to see if the contractions stop when you change positions.

What is preterm labor?

Preterm labor is labor that begins too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) can have health problems at birth and later in life. If you’re not to 37 weeks of pregnancy and you have signs or symptoms of preterm labor, call your provider. Getting help quickly is the best thing you can do. Learn about risk factors for preterm labor and what you can do to help reduce your risk.

What are stages of labor?

Stages of labor include the whole process of labor, from your first contractions (stage 1) to pushing (stage 2) to delivery of the placenta (stage 3) after your baby is born. Learning about the stages of labor can help you know what to expect during labor and birth.

Last reviewed: December, 2018

Mother and child room | Tactile signs

  • Description
  • Direct printing on plastic
  • Payment

Schemes of tactile pictograms fully comply with SP-101-2001 and GOST R 52131-2003. Plates can also be custom designed and completed with in Braille.

Currently, tactile pictograms are made of PVC plastic 3 mm thick , relief image height – 3 mm . Overall plate thickness – 6 mm .

At the request of the customer, the product is completed with double-sided foam tape for uneven surfaces. Styrofoam ceiling tile adhesive can also be used, however the adhesive tape allows the plaque to be removed from a wall or door without damaging the surface.

Production time – from 3 working days , depending on the volume of the order.


Plastic plates and signs are made of matt two-layer PVC foam with a thickness of 2-3 mm.
The material has a low weight and high rigidity, which allows it to be
is the perfect replacement for stickers. Unlike them, the plate does not repeat the irregularities of the wall and can be attached pointwise to it in several places with double-sided tape or glue and can be easily removed from it without damaging the surface. In addition, the plates can be easily attached with self-tapping screws.

If necessary, plates and signs can also be made of plastic of any thickness from 1 to 5 mm .

Lightfastness and moisture resistance

The lightfastness of the paint is
at least 5 years Depending on the intensity of solar radiation, the moisture resistance of the paint and material, it is possible to use the plates in the open air without additional protective equipment. For more information about the material and method of printing, see the section


The material is fireproof (refers to self-extinguishing materials).
The material and paints are certified for indoor use.


Double sided tape

Due to its low weight, the material is firmly held on a flat surface with double-sided tape.
There are different types of adhesive tape for different surfaces. If necessary, you can purchase the required amount of adhesive tape with the order or separately. We can send a description of the adhesive tape to your e-mail.

Self-tapping screws

When fastening with self-tapping screws, the material does not crack, and there is no need to pre-drill holes to fix the plate.

Universal polymer waterproof adhesive for PVC

Adhesive suitable for quick bonding of PVC and Styrofoam on all surfaces.

TAIFUN glue can be purchased under Related Products. Click here.

We maintain low prices for high-quality products and manufacture each plate or sign individually for your order, so please treat with understanding the terms of payment and delivery offered by our service.


1. An invoice for payment of the order is issued when placing an order. You will choose non-cash payment for legal entities.

2. You can send an application for the necessary signs or plates by writing a message (press button WRITE A MESSAGE ) at the top of the page and attaching the details of the organization.

3. You can write to the mail indicated in section CONTACTS. B
letter you can enclose the details, specification of the application and images
necessary characters, for example, if you did not find them on the site. Before
After printing, layouts will be sent to you for approval.


Cash payment is not accepted. If you want to pay for the order as a private person, then the easiest way to do this is to request an invoice for a private person and pay it through Sberbank Online (or any other bank) as a transfer to the organization using the details. You can also pay the printed invoice through an operator at the office of Sberbank or any other bank.


Delivery of any signs is carried out only after 100% payment for the order, regardless of the amount of the order

We deliver plates anywhere in Russia. Reception of orders on the site 24 hours a day. If you place an order over the weekend, we will process it on Monday.

Signs A child in a car in the Queen: 1075 items: free shipping, 87% discount [link]

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