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Contractions can start without the waters breaking. Is this common??

Hi Alex - I`m a few days shy of my due date and had been under the impression that the first sign of labour is my waters breaking but I`m now discovering that that isn`t always the case - contractions can start without the waters breaking.
How common is this?
Thanks :-) Cathy

Sarah...
Answer: Hi Cathy, In the majority of cases the contractions will start first. These may be only very mild and 10 – 15 minutes apart. You may then take some time to go into established labour, where the contractions are around 5 minutes apart and start to get a bit stronger. Your waters may break at this time or more likely they will break later. Best wishes, Alex
Answered: 08 Mar 2008