Labor and birth 237
Signs that labor is near
These 3 signs show that labor is starting or will start soon. They may not all happen,
and they can happen in any order. If you have any of these signs, tell your birth
attendant (health worker, midwife, doctor).
1. Clear or pink-colored mucus comes out of the vagina. During pregnancy, the
opening to the womb (cervix) is plugged with thick mucus. This protects the
baby and womb from infection. When the womb starts to open, it releases this
plug of mucus and also a little blood.
2. Clear water comes out of the vagina. This is from the bag of waters that has
surrounded and protected the baby in the womb. The bag of waters can break
before labor begins, or at any time during labor.
3. The womb begins to contract and pains in the belly start. During a contraction,
the womb will squeeze up and become hard, and then it will relax and become
soft again. At first contractions may come 10 or 20 minutes apart or more. When
contractions become regular (have about the same amount of time between each
one), real labor has begun.
Contractions are usually painful, but if you have no feeling in your belly, you can
usually see or feel the changes like this:
I cannot feel any pain, but I can
feel my belly get hard…
…and then soft again.
When any one of these signs occurs, it is time to get
ready for the birth. Here is a list of things you can do:
• Let your midwife know that labor is starting.
• Make sure the supplies for the birth are ready.
• Wash yourself, especially your genitals.
• Continue to eat small meals.
• Drink plenty of fluids (water or juice).
• Rest while you can.
• Apply heat to your lower back, such as a
warm cloth or towel. Or ask a friend to
massage your back.
I will go and tell Doña
Rosa that your pains
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007