Anya baby & breastfeeding app logo - a lower case letter a with a baby's face with a tuft of hair with the word anya in lower case to the right

Labour & birth – what to expect at each stage of labour

October 4, 2022

Labour doesn’t often start dramatically like we see on screen, more often than not it‘s niggles and back ache that increase in intensity and frequency until they have a regular pattern. You may have Braxton Hicks tightenings towards the end of pregnancy, these can be uncomfortable but generally aren’t painful.

What to do at the beginning of labour
It’s a good idea to let the local unit know when your labour begins, even if you’re not planning on going straight in or are having a home birth.

It’s ok to have false alarms, it can be tricky to identify when labour has actually started, especially if it’s your first experience of it. Women often report having loose bowels before labour and some also have nausea or vomiting, so these are signs to look out for.

How do I know labour is starting?

Labour also doesn’t always start with waters breaking – in births that happen spontaneously, often the waters don’t break until well into labour (or sometimes not at all!) so please don’t discount it being labour if your waters haven’t broken. If you have any concerns at all then contact your local maternity unit who will be able to advise what to do-if you’re planning on birthing there then make sure you’ve got the route you need to take and transport sorted and allow plenty of time; you don’t need to call an ambulance unless it’s an emergency.

What’s a birth plan? How do I prepare one?

Whether you are expecting an elective c/section or whether you are hoping to have a home birth, or anything in between, it’s useful to have a birth plan. You need only include what is important to YOU in your plan, not what others are suggesting that they might prefer – this is about your wishes. It might be useful to include for the attention of the health professionals involved in your care any specific language that you would prefer, or would prefer to avoid.

Sometimes our own self talk can be our undoing, so when you are writing ‘future you’ some ideas for around your baby’s birth, perhaps try using what are called affirmative language swaps – taking statements you might ordinarily say but which could be seen as negative and swapping the language out for something more positive and affirming. For example, rather than putting your newborn baby in skin to skin and ‘trying to breastfeed’, you might say ‘to commence breastfeeding’. Bullet points and clear text are great both for communicating your point clearly, and for people to read quickly.

For more personalised information on your pregnancy stage, preparing for birth and your labour, download the Anya app!

Related case studies