If this is your first baby, you may be feeling a growing sense of anxiety about the impending labour and birth. However, it's good to remember that our bodies are made for giving birth, so try to relax about it. We've prepared these tips to help you learn about what to expect:

True Labour:

True labour (as opposed to "False Labour" or Braxton Hicks) has the following symptoms:

- An increase in vaginal discharge, possibly brownish or pinkish in colour.
- "Engagement," or the sensation of the baby dropping lower into your pelvic cavity.
- Braxton Hicks contractions or "practice" contractions that feel like a tightening or hardening of the uterus with possible mild cramps.
- Slight weight loss.
- Dull pain low in your back that comes and goes.
- Loose and frequent bowel movements with cramping.
- Sensation of building pressure or cramping in your pelvic/rectal area.
- A feeling of restlessness/increased energy, or marked sense of fatigue.
- Softening, thinning, or dilation of cervix (as shown by doctor's internal exam).
- If contractions are 4-5 minutes apart and you can't talk through them, it's time to go to the hospital!

Is It False Labor?

Note that Braxton Hicks contractions are different from the contractions you'll feel in labor:

- They're irregular and will subside after a time.
- They won't increase in strength or frequency.
- They'll subside if you move around.
- You'll feel pain in your lower abdomen, not your lower back.
- Any lower back pain you do feel is not persistent.
- This is often called "false labor." Although the real work of labor hasn't begun, you can rest assured that your baby is getting ready to make his or her grand entrance!

What was your labour like? Did you go to the hospital too early or too late? Tell us your story!