By Dr Tan Shu Qi, Consultant and Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, Visiting Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

What Are the Signs of Labour?

31 weeks pregnant: what are the signs of labour

Three sure-fire signs of labour are:

  • Painful regular contractions
  • A "show" (a plug of bloody mucus leaks out from your cervix). While the passing of this plug might mean that your labour is just hours away, in some women the delivery may not happen for days
  • Your waters breaking

What Do Contractions Feel Like?

31 weeks pregnant: how do contractions feel like

These sensations come in waves, and some women have described them as similar to period cramps, sometimes accompanied by a low backache. Some women may also experience painless contractions. These are known as Braxton Hicks or "practice" contractions, which do not cause the cervix to open.

Related: Induction Of Labour

What Does it Feel Like When Your Water Bag Bursts?

week 31: what does it feel like when your water bag bursts

When the amniotic sac encasing your baby breaks, you may be unsure if you've just urinated. But unlike urine, which comes with a strong smell of ammonia, the amniotic fluid smells slightly sweet.

Once this happens, it's a sign that labour is not far off! In some 80 percent of cases, women with ruptured amniotic membranes will go into labour within 24 hours. Get ready!

Related: What to Pack and What to Expect in the Delivery Suite

Do Painful Contractions Always Mean Labour is About to Start?

31 weeks pregnant: pregnancy contractions

No. Many mums-to-be enter maternity wards experiencing contractions every 10 to 30 minutes, only to find that after some hours, the contractions fade. In these cases, it may be a false alarm.

Note from doctor: It may be difficult to know when you are going into labour. Contact your doctor if you have any concerns!

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The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific

Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore