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How to know when labour will start: Signs and symptoms

The anticipation of childbirth is an exciting and transformative time for expectant parents. Many people will spend time wondering, "How will I know when I'm about to go into labour?"

While everyone's experience is unique, there are common signs and symptoms that can indicate the onset of labour. In this article, we will explore the various ways to recognize the beginning of this remarkable journey and how the chain reaction of hormones influences these signals.

  1. The Chain Reaction of Hormones: Labour is triggered by a complex interplay of hormones in the body. As your birth approaches, the levels of estrogen and progesterone shift, leading to the release of prostaglandins, oxytocin, and other key hormones. This cascade of hormonal changes prepares your body for childbirth and sets the stage for labour to begin - It is vital that this chain event remains uninterrupted as much as possible.

  2. Irregular Bowel Movements: Often one of the early signs that labour is approaching is experiencing irregular bowel movements. Some women may notice loose stools or even diarrhea in the days/hours leading up to labour. If you notice changes in your bowel habits, it could be a sign that labour is imminent.

  3. Hunger and Feeling Sleepy: In the days leading up to labour, some women may experience increased hunger and a surge of energy, often referred to as the "nesting instinct." However, it is equally common to feel tired and sleepy. Listen to your body and rest when needed, eat all the good carb rich foods and don't be tempted to 'chase labour'.

  4. Feeling Alert and Irrational: As labour draws nearer, you may experience a mix of emotions. Some people report feeling unusually alert and aware, while others may feel anxious or on edge. These emotional fluctuations are a normal part of the process. Additionally, feeling irrational or having mood swings can be attributed to the hormonal changes occurring in your body. It's important to share your feelings with your support network for reassurance and understanding.

  5. Nesting Instinct: The nesting instinct is a primal urge that many pregnant women experience before labour. It manifests as a strong desire to prepare the home for the arrival of the baby. You may find yourself organizing and cleaning, setting up the home, or stocking up on supplies. This surge of energy and motivation is a clear indication that your body and mind are getting ready for labour.

  6. Increased Libido: Contrary to popular belief, some women experience an increased sexual desire as labour approaches. This heightened libido can be attributed to the hormonal changes and increased blood flow to the pelvic region. If you feel a surge of sexual energy, share it with your partner in whatever way feels good.

  7. Changes Noticed by Your Partner: Your partner may notice subtle changes in your behavior and physical appearance that you don;t even notice yourself. They may describe you as being "on edge" or "restless." It's like watching a pot of water on the stove, simmering and ready to boil. Encourage open communication with your partner, as they can provide support and reassurance during this transformative time.

The chain reaction of hormones within your body sets off a series of physical and emotional changes. From irregular bowel movements and increased hunger to nesting instincts and heightened libido, these signs collectively give you a sense of what lies ahead. Remember, every family's experience is unique, and these signs may manifest differently. Trust your instincts, share your feeling and experiences with your partner/birth partner/Doula and remember that much like no-one can make you fall asleep, on-one can make you fall into labour, it's all about your environment.

Learn so much more about what to expect and how to prepare in our full Hypnobirthing and Birth Prep course.


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