Despite the fact that I STILL haven’t gotten my head round the whole “there’s going to be a real actual baby and he’s going to be OURS” thing, and the reality that we still are not ready (there’s washing to do, and baby wipes and breast pads to make to name but two things) I’m constantly (and excitedly) on the look out for signs of imminent labour. I’ve been doing it ever since I hit 37 weeks.
My midwife ran through the signs with me to check that I knew what was what and I felt very in control and aware…and then we got home and I started wondering. And googling.
And then I realised that none of the signs of labour actually mean that labour is happening/going to happen soon. Sometimes they happen, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes women get all of them, sometimes they only get a few.
One of the first things I was going to look out for was ‘a clear out’…or, if you’re being less polite, a bout of diarrhoea. Nice. This is one of the things that might not happen at all though.
The next thing was losing the mucous plug from the neck of my cervix, otherwise known as a ‘bloody show’. Once again, nice. This one was, I felt, quite reliable as you’d expect to notice it, but no. There’s plenty of women who don’t recall seeing any kind of ‘show’, bloody or otherwise…so that’s reliable then.
An obvious sign is, obviously, your waters breaking. Everyone knows that, right? Except your waters can break at ANY point during labour, and sometimes, very rarely, babies can be born without the waters breaking at all. Also, your waters can break without labour starting. So that clichéd image of the woman who’s waters break in the supermarket (or other embarrassing public place) is completely misleading.
Sometimes back pain and period cramps can be a sign that things are kicking off, except they’re both things that I’ve been experiencing on and off for a couple of weeks now. Reliable.
A lightening feeling, where you can breathe more easily (and eat more food again!) can indicate that your baby has dropped down into your pelvis more BUT the baby engaging isn’t a sign of labour on its own, they can always pop back out again, and some babies (especially if it’s your second) don’t engage at all.
Finally, contractions, or tightenings, accompanied with pain in your lower back or lower abdomen, irregular or not, might be a good indication of labour. I’ve had a few in the past few weeks but they’ve been sporadic rather than irregular. Once you’re getting ones that last around a minute and happen a few times in an hour you might be in the early stages of labour…but that irregularity could continue for days and it can also stop entirely.
So I guess what I’m saying is that, although I’m desperately looking for signs, I don’t trust any of them. Not only that, but I also don’t feel ready for the signs to be positive. It’s a very weird situation to be in…especially when I’m actively trying to do things that bring labour on.
Amongst other things, I’ve been bouncing on my swiss ball, doing a “labour dance” (which involves lots of pelvic winding and bump rubbing), and last night Luke made a really hot curry (it had about eight birdseye chillies in it on top of his normal spice level)…Mini Moss is DEFINITELY moving around a LOT ever since the heat-fest so who knows what could happen.