Early Labour Signs

How To Tell If You’re In Early Labour

As soon as you start to reach the end of pregnancy, everyone tells you to look out for early labour signs. From contractions through to nesting, there’s plenty of advice out there as to what to expect but what do these look like in reality? I wanted to know what real mums experienced as early labour, after all, they’ve been there. Here’s what they had to say…

Early Labour Signs

Early Labour Signs

Aches & Pains

‘Backache for me. Lower back pain. Never had any shows or anything like that.’

‘I felt like I was coming on my period the morning of the day I gave birth. Just little crampy feelings that told me something was going on. And just a few hours later the proper contractions started and I gave birth that night…on my due date!’ 

‘I had bad pain in my hips and thighs that prevented me from sleeping – I only got 2 hours, tops. Then all through the morning and afternoon I’d have these awful pains in my womb area and legs every so often, as well as lower back pain. By 10.30pm that evening, it was becoming more intense and frequent which arose my suspicions. By midnight it was very intense and after gripping the headboard and groaning, I knew that I was in labour.’

Dodgy Tum

‘I started to get twinges on the underside of my bump. I also had a bit of a dodgy tummy and had a show. With my second however it all just came on very fast- straight into contractions!’

‘I felt really poorly like I had a bug-I went to bed and turned over to go to sleep and my waters went!!!’

‘I had a really upset tummy a few days before things started to happen and just felt like I had a tummy bug’

Mood Swings

‘I was moody as hell two days before for both babies! It was an uncontrollable rage!’

‘I burst into tears for no reason in TGI Fridays’

A Bloody Show

‘I had ‘the show’ as the first indicator a couple of days beforehand followed by lower back ache and period like cramping in early labour’

‘With my first I was back and forth to the loo all day and lost my mucus plug that evening. In the morning I was having very mild contractions from the moment I woke up which became stronger throughout the day. My waters didn’t break though, that had to be done by a midwife.’

Loss Of Appetite

‘I went from being really hungry the day before and then my appetite completely dropped off and didn’t return until that post birth piece of toast’

‘I lost my appetite the day before – which was odd because my nausea and cheese cravings meant I was never far from a packet of Babybel the 8.5months prior!’


‘I had a migraine a few days before and the night before had this overwhelming hunger after spending days mainly sleeping and not having much of an appetite. I woke up the next morning with period type pains and that’s when it all began!’

‘Carb loading? A few days before labour I had intense pasta cravings in particular and felt starving for anything carb filled!’

Waters Breaking

‘I woke up when my waters broke. No signs of early labour before that!’

‘With my first I felt like I had wet myself a tiny bit, I was really embarrassed and didn’t tell anyone at first. I later found out that that was my back waters going (I didn’t even know that was a thing) and that labour had started. They later had to pop my “real” waters.’

‘My wife could hear a slushing sound when she wiggled her belly. It’s like the water was ready to break. The next night she went into the labour. ‘

‘My waters broke at 30 weeks! I kept him in until 32 weeks and went into hospital saying I felt ill and asking if the pains I was having were contractions. They were very low and not at all like my first born. The midwives told me I wasn’t in labour… they were wrong! He came about seven hours later very very quickly! Each pregnancy and labour can be very different.’


‘I went into serious nesting mode. I would suddenly feel the urge to empty & clean all the kitchen cupboards at 10pm at night. I also would wake up ready for the day at 4am! This all started whilst I was actually in slow labour. I was actually scrubbing the kitchen when my contractions started properly but I was determined to finish – little did I know he wouldn’t arrive for another three days!’

No Warning

‘Mine came out of the blue. I went for a walk and had to stop a few times due to pains in my stomach. By the time I got home, contractions were coming thick and fast.’

‘No early signs here with my first, with my second I had a bloody show and that was it.’


Well, that’s made it clearer, hasn’t it?! For more information on pregnancy, why not check out our week by week pregnancy calendar?



With huge thanks to the following parents and fellow bloggers for sharing their experiences; Sarah, Lucy, Emma, Hannah, Georgina, Sarah, Alex, Emma, Lisa, Katie, Terri, Ross, Nicola, Jemma, Jessica, Laura, Emma, Sal and Rachael.


  • Ry 30th September 2018 at 1:38 am

    Not sure if other Mamas experienced this, but I suddenly got EXHAUSTED. It was like nothing I had ever felt before (before or during pregnancy) It was as if my body was telling me, rest now – this is it! Turns out true, had my first contractions there in the “sick room” at work during what I thought was going to be a quick little 10 minute nap. HA! An hour later I made it to the hospital and was 7 cm at check in.

    • DevonMamaOnline 1st October 2018 at 3:50 pm

      Isn’t it funny how our body just seems to know? Sounds like you had a really fast labour as well, that nap must’ve helped you be incredibly relaxed!

    Leave a Reply

    Welcome To Devon Mama!

    I'm Hayley and this is us; working parents to three tiny wild ones. Whether it's travel, food, lifestyle or just a healthy dose of parenting reality, there's something for everyone here. So sit back, get comfy and start scrolling!

    Hayley x

    Never Miss A Moment

    Join 3,697 other subscribers.

    Latest Posts

    Latest Tweets

    TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs