Labour Line

Labour Line is open 24 hours a day, so if you are unsure whether your labour has started or you have any concerning symptoms, it’s best to call.

Call 0300 369 0388 if you experience any of the following:

  • Your waters break

  • You’re bleeding

  • You have unexplained abdominal pain

  • Your baby is moving less than usual, or the pattern of movements has changed

  • You’re less than 37 weeks pregnant and think you might be in labour

  • You feel unwell or feverish

  • You are unsure or worried about your labour, yourself or your baby


Call 999 immediately if:

  • You can feel the umbilical cord inside your vagina, or you can see it hanging out of your vagina
  • You are bleeding very heavily
  • You lose consciousness
  • You are pushing or your partner can see your baby’s head
  • You have a seizure or fit

Some women will need to go into hospital at the beginning of their labour rather than staying at home. Your consultant or midwife will tell you if this is the case and advise you to call Labour Line if you think your labour has started.

Signs that labour has started

There are several signs that labour might be starting. You might have one, several or all these signs. They can happen in any order – every labour is different, so even if you’ve had a baby before, the signs might be different this time.

They usually start out irregular, then become more regular. It is useful to time how long your contractions last, and how much time there is between them. You can ask your birth partner to do this for you, or you download a contraction timing app on your phone.

This is a sticky plug of mucus that comes away from your cervix (entrance to your womb). It might be creamy, pink or bloodstained, and you might lose pieces gradually or all at once.

This can be either a gush or trickles that you cannot control. Wear a sanitary pad so that you can tell the midwife about the colour and odour of the waters. The fluid should be clear. Report any coloured or foul-smelling fluid loss straight away to Labour Line (0300 3690388) or to the midwife caring for you during labour.

Some women feel discomfort or pain in the back rather than in their tummy. This might feel like period pain to start with.

This is caused by your baby’s head pressing on your bowel.

Learn more about signs of labour.

Early phase of labour

Call Labour Line on 0300 369 0388 if you’re unsure or worried about anything. Some women phone several times for support and advice during their labour, especially during the latent (early) phase. It’s always best to call if you are unsure about anything so that you can get the right advice. Labour Line can also give advice on pain relief at home in the early stages of labour. Taking Paracetamol can be helpful in the early stages. Make sure you read the instructions on the packaging.

Find out more about the stages of labour and what you can do at home during the latent phase.

How can I tell if my waters have broken?

Most first-time mums think they will have a huge gush of fluid when their waters break, but that’s not always the case. Some mums are unsure whether their waters have broken because it can be a very slow trickle, and if it is the hind waters that have broken the trickle can sometimes stop. If you are unsure whether your waters have broken, you should call Labour Line (0300 369 0388) so that they can arrange for you to be assessed if necessary.

Amniotic fluid is clear and a pale straw colour. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell amniotic fluid from urine. When your waters break, the water may be a little bloodstained to begin with.

If your waters break before labour starts, call Labour Line. Use a sanitary pad (not a tampon) so your midwife can check the colour of the waters.

When to go to the hospital or birth centre