Understanding Active Labour

Active Labour is typically described as the time where the cervix dilates from 3-7cm and does a whole boat load of changes such as thinning and effacing. Baby descends lower into the pelvis and contractions get stronger, longer and more intense.

You may have heard your health care professional say something like when your contractions are 5-1-1 you are in active labour and need to go to the hospital/page me.

Unfortunately, labour and birth are quite unpredictable and there are many variations of normal. What's important is that you listen to your body and find your own normal.

If your contractions are every 15 minutes (and you're 39-42 weeks pregnant) and you find it difficult to walk or talk through them, chances are your body is doing a lot of changes and preparing for birth. Some women don't actually get to that 5-1-1 rule until their water breaks, and your water can break at any point during labour. Some babies are even born in the water sac (referred to as en caul)!

When you're nearing the end of pregnancy and you feel like things are starting, go through a mental checklist. Ask yourself

  • how am I feeling?
  • am I angry? (anger is often associated with transition, 7-10cm)
  • do I feel pressure and like I need to poop?
  • can I walk or talk through this pain?
  • what do my instincts say?

You've got this, mama! Active labour is hard, but you can do it. You were made for this!