In the weeks leading up to the birth of your baby, you will begin to notice some subtle changes in your body. These are all signs that labour is close.

Engagement

This is when the head or other presenting part of the baby starts to move down into the pelvis. Before this happens you will be able to feel the head floating above the brim of the pelvis. After this you can no longer feel it. Some people will say the baby has dropped when the baby becomes engaged. Often you will notice that the baby is not as high in your abdomen as it was before. The process of the baby becoming engaged in the pelvis is known as lightening and can sometimes feel a bit crampy and achy for a few hours while the ligaments in the pelvis adjust to the new situation.

Usually first time mothers notice that once the baby becomes engaged that it stays engaged, mothers who have had children before often find that the baby moves in and out of the pelvis, often not settling until the labour itself.

Increased vaginal secretions

An increase in mucous secretion is normal so long as there is no irritation. This is a result of the dramatic changes in hormone levels as your body prepares for labor. If you notice an itchy, burning or yucky smell then you could have an infection which will need to be treated.

The baby stops moving so much

This can be a sign that labour will soon begin. It is common for baby’s to become very quiet a few days before the birth and they can sometimes fall asleep during labor. As with everything else, I recommend trusting your intuition and if you are concerned ask your chosen health care provider.

Mucus plug or a bloody show

This is a brownish or pinkish secretion of mucus. It shouldn’t be a lot of blood.

Persistent backache

If this is a sign that labour is starting if may feel somewhat like period pain and will not be relived by lying down, in fact lying down can make it feel worse for some women. Of course backache can also be caused by carrying around a huge belly, if this is it, try doing some yoga stretches, take a warm bath and get plenty of rest.

Braxton hicks contractions- otherwise know as false labour pains

This feels like a tightening sensation across the abdomen and happens from about week 20 onwards. This is the uterus getting itself stronger in preparation for labour. They can become stronger as labour becomes more eminent.

Softening of the cervix

This is also known as ripening of the cervix and begins in late pregnancy. It becomes softer, feels spongy and thins out in preparation for the birth.