Baby Hints & Tips

Early Labour Signs – What Does The Start of Labour Feel Like?

What does the start of labour feel like?

Early labour signs differ from woman to woman and it can be difficult to determine if it’s actually labour or if you’re experiencing braxton hicks.  There’s a wealth of information on the signs of first stage labour on the internet and we know you’ve probably been reading everything there is to know.  Our team of medical professionals suggest contacting your birth team if you think you may be going into first stage labour.  For your own peace of mind though, we asked our massive community of “mums who have been there” what their experiences with what the start of labour feels like.  Here we ask our community to share their experiences to help you know if birth is about to happen! EEK!

Early labour signs - How to recognise the early signs of labour

Early labour signs can include:

  • period like cramps
  • waters breaking
  • pain
  • pre-contractions
  • nausea
  • diarrhoea

Community Advice: What were other mums’ early labour signs?

(Medical disclaimer: Tips provided need to be considered in conjunction with medical advice. For immediate concerns, please contact HealthDirect (Australia wide) ph 1800 022 222 – to talk to a registered nurse 24hrs a day, and in emergencies call 000.)

Period like cramps that get worse as things go on

  • Period like cramps that come and go. Feeling like the baby is going to fall out.l I had nausea but everyone is different. With one of my children I leaked fluid but had to go straight into hospital to make sure I didn’t get an infection!!  Mimina

Leaking fluid/ waters breaking/ bloody show

Read about mums losing their mucus plug and how long it took to go in to labour

  • My early sign of labour were mild amounts of water leaking very early in the morning (thought I’d had an accident rather than leaking waters lol) but I knew once I started getting period like pains they too were quite mild.   Rebecca
  • I’m currently getting the occasional bh and a loss of mucous. With my last 2births my waters broke before I knew I was in labour.      Rebecca
  • I didn’t get any my warning.  My waters break and then that’s it. Nothing else happens until I’m induced. They can’t even turn the oxytocin off as I don’t continue labouring, I just stop. Cassie
  • First baby I had no signs of labour. I was induced 12 days over.  Second baby I had a planned cesarian but was on the phone whinging to my sister that I was over being pregnant and wished this baby would just get out, stood up and waters broke with no warning 12 days before the surgery date. Andrea
  • Loss of plug during afternoon, waters broke early the next morning and then baby was born 2.5hrs later! Melissa
  • 1st: didnt really have braxton hicks during pregnancy. My waters broke with no warning and baby was born 14 1/2 hours later.
  • I had my show right before I broke (pushed) my own waters and Bub was out 8mins after that. Maegan
  • Waters broke at 11am, with period pain and back ache from about 5am. Really bad pain from about 19:30 and he was born at 21:06. Kristy
  • With my third baby I lost mucus my plug and felt period pain.  I went to hospital as was scheduled for an elective section by the time I got to hospital waters were bulging and just about to break. Shi-anne
  • Loss of mucus plug over 2 days constant period like pain very low in abdomen contractions then waters breaking.  All very routine stuff, except for contractions everyday for 6 weeks before bub was born.  Jen
  • Braxton hicks for about a week then lost my plug started getting pains and went into hospital 9 he’s later and they broke my waters as I couldn’t progress myself and was induced then had my ds 16.5 hrs after that. Jessica

 Change in energy levels/ nesting

  • I got sooo tired the day before labour I kept nodding off everywhere next morning I woke full on energy at 4am went to the toilet and pop my waters broke lol I had no other signs it was coming I was 37weeks, and baby 2 was induced at 38weeks. Krissy
  • Severe amounts of energy for about a week, then waters broke. Symone
  • Energy burst 24 hrs before labour started and the morning of just didn’t feel right. Letisha
  •  The day before I cleaned and cooked up a storm. The next day I felt off, I got a little show and then contractions. Katie
  • Nesting, then lower back pains and then bloody show were my first signs of labour. Kirsten

Feeling uncomfortable

  • I couldn’t find a comfortable spot anywhere: sofa, bed, dining chair etc. For the day leading up to starting to feel contractions, which was at about 5pm. My waters didn’t break until late, so only had the uncomfortable feeling up until contractions.  Lesley
  • Mine starts with wind type pain, feels like I ate some bad chicken or something. Then I have to get myself to hospital quick, my babies come fast. Jes

Pain – back pain/period pain etc

  • Constant lower back pain like when you get your period and period cramping in my lower belly.
  • Like period pain but in lower back. Liza
  • Lost my plug, had niggling back and abdominal pain and really feeling awful for 4 days… Waters ruptured in the morning of day 5 with no pain until 9 hours later then full blown labour until the morning of day 6. Bianca
  • My hips started to ache with both pregnancies, and contractions started a few hours later. I knew the second time it was gonna happen pretty soon after I felt those aches. Kelly
  • Sore, aching legs! The same kind of pain that you have the day after a big workout. Then the pain travelled up to my lower back.  I had a loss of appetite too. Melaina
  • I had a really bad pain like I had a bladder infection. I couldn’t walk properly with it because it was like a pulling pain as you get with bladder infections.  The midwife thinks it was the start of labour, but we’re still not sure, so that 40+ hours of labour  Tiana
  • Woke up with period like pains that worsened throughout the day. Chelsea
  • Cramps and lots of pain in my pelvis. Aimee
  • Period type pain!  Cassandra
  • Cramps that start and have a peak then eases off as a pattern. Amie
  • So tired drained, lower back ache, Braxton hicks, before both labours. Mel
  • 1st: no early signs. I had leakage then strong contractions. Baby came 2 hrs later, 2 days early . 2nd: 1 week late. Had a s&s, a few hrs later started feeling period like pain on and off before becoming stronger. Had baby 8hrs after having the stretch and sweepKelly
  • Lower back discomfort was my first sign of labour. Heidi
  • I felt sick, like I had a flu without the runny nose. Body aches especially my back and pelvis, then my waters broke. Tanya
  • Pains in my lower tummy that went around to my bum, pain doesn’t go away.  It just gets stronger! Belinda
  • Really bad back pain and then about 6 hours later my waters broke, no contractions until they started them for me. Turns out bub had her back to mine so no wonder my back ached so much. Jill
  • First time started with what felt like period pain and I started to bleed a little, was until hours later and I literally mean hours 24 to be exact that the contractions started but I couldn’t get comfortable and didn’t know what to do with myself. Shi-anne

Pre-labour contractions / Braxton Hicks

  • My constant Braxton hicks turned into painful ones gradually getting more painful and making me hold my breath or breathe through them! Kylie
  • First time – water broke then I was induced. Second time I was having increased Braxton hicks and then my water broke and they induced me again. Lost my plug early on around 36 weeks. Delivered both babies at 38 weeks. Leigh
  • A few niggles and on and off braxton hicks caught me by surprise when that turned into full on contractions 30 seconds apart and delivered within the hour. Sharni
  • With my second baby I had heaps of pains, aches, braxton hicks throughout 3rd trimester. A couple of false alarms. Contractions started at 4am, waters broken at 3:30pm, baby born an hour later – best labour ever – pain for only an hour! Tamara
  • I had contractions all over the place. The timings for the contractions were crazy. I woke at 4:30am, went to the toilet and and lost some of my plug. Wasn’t in any pain, it was just annoying. Went to the hospital, the Obstetrician on the ward did a stretch and sweep, admitted me to the room but at 12:30pm she sent me home to see if it would progress. By 5:30pm the contractions were stronger but still not doing anything so I went back to the hospital at 6 she asked if I wanted her to break my waters. I said go for it. 4 hours later I had my boy in my arms. It was the same with my first as well. Lousia

No signs of labour – yes, that happens too!

  • I had fast labour, no early signs.  Contractions to baby being born in under 40 minutes. Sam 
  • No signs of labour. My waters broke. Then I had an oxytocin drip to induce.  Trisha
  • I had no early signs at all, I just woke up early in the morning with contractions and had my baby the next morning. Jade 
  • Waters just broke through the night with both my girls. Kylie
  • I was 3cm dilated for 4 days then induced 8 days past my expected due date.  They broke my waters and then 6 hours later my 1st girl was born. She came after 2 hours of constant braxton hicks and then 2 hours of actual labour. It started with the feeling of waiting to do a number 2 but nothing would happen.  So altogether 4 hours finally baby girl number 2 was born. (It was very horrible as she came too fast, midwives weren’t ready so I tore resulting in lots of stitches) I am hoping baby number 3 gives me a better labour in June. Bridgitte
  • None… I woke up with pains and knew straight away I was in labour ..Lisa-marie
  •  Nothing until contractions actually started – didn’t even see my plug go. I’d had BH contractions from about half way through pregnancy anyway, and then the early contractions felt like period pain type cramps but at intervals. Lesley


  • Feeling sick. I went into labour the next day. Diana 
  • I had constant braxton hicks than I was nausious and vomitting which made my waters break a couple hours after that my contractions started. Paige


This may be the only time in history you want diarrhoea!  A lot of women fear pooping during labour so this may be mother nature’s way of preventing that happening!

  • Nothing until diarrhoea then that was it!! Renee
  • First I woke up with gastro type feeling vomiting with diarrhoea plus cramps that ended up being contractions.  My daughter was born 12 hours later. With my 2nd, my waters broke spontaneously 11 days early.  I then had nothing for 8 and a half hours –  contractions finally started and son was born 3 hours later.  Laura

 Other early signs you’re entering labour

  • All of a sudden no signs of thrush after dealing with it thru out whole pregnancy 2 days later contractions just started 8-10 minutes apart, 3 hours later bub was here. There was no warm up or other signs this time. Maegan
  • For both my pregnancies I got a really bad headache that wouldn’t go away. I had very high blood pressure the day before, then I have to go to the toilet a lot and empty my bowels then waters break and contractions start. Alicia

Am I in labour?

Mums share how they knew labour had started

Labour has started … here are some useful tips

** TENS for pain relief

** Breathing techniques to help

** Tips for dad to be helpful during labour

** Most comfortbale clothes for labour

** Tips for new parents

 What were your early signs of labour, comment below?

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  1. AvatarCharlotte says:

    Woke up 8am wednesday morn, felt contractions all day at home, packed hospital bag, headed to hospital @ thursday 12:30am 8cm dilated already conts got way stronger, water broke on its own @ 1:40 had bub 1:45am early thurs.

  2. AvatarKelly says:

    Can you lovely mummies help me please….. this is my 3rd baby due in 24 days…. had my bloody show Monday night. On and off period type pains which are really hurting…. ladie bits are sore and swollen….. buba has dropped loads now… iv had dirrehea this morning just don’t feel myself I’m so emotional right about now…. in my last too pregnancys iv never had this before…. can some one please help xxx

    • AvatarChristina says:

      I feel horrible this morning 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant with my second baby boy woke up this morning feeling emotional angry tired and not very hungry disastis pubis disfunction dislicated pelvis and just been diagnosed with mild preaclampsia is my emotional state telling me im going to be in labour soon ive almost had enough

  3. AvatarEmma says:

    With my first I had contraction from about mid day on starting like little niggling feelings not painful at all went to bed that night and woke up about midnight with contractions closer togeather and the pain unbearable, went to hospital and though I did get a little sleep I was waking constantly because the pain of contractions was so bad, when morning came I was still not even 8 cm dialated by afternoon I was taken to another hospital because the one I was in only delivered low risk pregnancys and did not administer epidurals my daughter was born that night just past 7 but she was lying face up and wouldn’t turn till last second hence the pain been so bad.
    With my second I started having the same niggling feelings (start of contractions) about 4 in the afternoon the next morning about 7am I couldn’t bare the pain (normal contraction pain) went to hospital and not even 2 hours later I was holding my son.