5 Signs It’s Time To Call Your Doula | Winnipeg Doula

Am I in labor? Is this real? When do I call my doula? Such common questions at the end of pregnancy!

Many birthers find that they have prodromal or “practice” labor at the end of their pregnancies for days or even weeks before starting to labor in earnest. This can be frustrating and confusing all at the same time! These warm up contractions help your body and uterus to practice and warm up, but generally do not work to significantly dilate your cervix (although some dilation and movement of the cervix can happen!). Don’t confuse that with meaning they don’t do anything-  prodromal labor is a good thing, even when it doesn’t feel like it!

Still, it can be confusing trying to figure out if it’s practice labor or the ‘real deal’. These warm up contractions may feel very real! The most common way to tell the difference is over time-- while “real” early labor contractions will get noticeably stronger, longer and closer together, prodromal labor will typically not get significantly closer together or longer. For most people they will happen for several hours and then fizzle out, starting again later or another day. This is a good sign that these are the important priming contractions-- but not a sign that true labor is starting.

In this case, I recommend trying to get rest, and remain positive- these contractions can give you a good chance to practice some of your relaxation techniques, but I urge you not to get caught up in planning for the birth yet! The best thing that you can do is to rest and keep your mind off of it.

So how do you know when it’s time to start preparing for the birth and calling your support people? Below are a couple signs that productive labor may be starting- and it’s time to alert your partner, your doula, birth photographer and/or midwife!

winnipeg pregnancy signs of labor

1. If your water breaks

Whether a trickle or a gush, your water breaking can be a dreaded and exciting moment. It may not mean that contractions will start immediately, but it's a good sign! If your water breaks and contractions have not started, or they are still light, I personally treat this as a perfect time to grab some food and them climb back into bed. Getting some rest before labor starts in earnest is always a good idea! Not sure if it was your water? Amniotic fluid should be clear, and have a mild scent- not like urine. Some people say it is sweet smelling.

2. You lose your mucus plug and/or see bloody show

Seeing bloody mucuous on the toilet paper after you wipe can see a bit scary, but it’s also something to be excited about in the last weeks of pregnancy. This is a good sign that your cervix is starting to move and dilate! If noticable contractions have not started yet, they may soon. Just to keep you on your toes though- some birthers will lose their mucuous plug and not go into labor for days or even weeks. Still- it’s a good idea to keep your care provider and support people in the loop if this happens!

3. You start feeling like you have the flu

It’s a common occurance. You get to 39 weeks pregnant and it hits-- You’re achy, tired, your stomach gets upset and you may have loose stools or even diarrhea. This may feel like the worst thing in the world, and many people worry that they are now going to have to go through labor while sick, but it’s actually a common sign that labor is getting ready to start! One of the ways your body prepares for labor is by dumping hormones-- and some of these will cause your body to mimic signs of sickness. Again- this isn’t a foolproof sign, but it’s a good one to be aware of- especially if you’re finding yourself in the bathroom a lot. Many birthers state that the night before or hours before labor started, it was like their body got spooked and “emptied out”- that’s a strong fight or flight response there-- your body is preparing to do hard work!

4. Backache

Wait, how do you know the difference between regular sore back and one that signals labor? You can’t always. But if you notice a backache that switches from a generalized soreness into a concentrated pain that may ebb and flow-- this may be a sign that things are gearing up.

5. Contractions Pick up

Braxton hicks are frequent during late pregnancy, so how do you know when they’re the real deal? If you’re noticing contractions that are easily timable with an obvious start and end- labor may be starting! Early labor contractions will continue to progress longer, stronger and closer together, so it may take a few hours before you know for sure. If they’re coming at regular intervals though, even if still fairly far apart-- it’s time to give your support people a heads up! True labor contractions will also not let up with rest, position changes or increased water, and tend to include some back pain with them. Many birthers also report that their labor contractions felt like they wrapped more around the belly, as opposed to the low down menstrual cramp feeling of braxton hicks.

Feeling some signs? Maybe it’s your time! Don’t forget to get some rest, and call your care provider and support people!



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Winnipeg Pregnancy: Finding A Care Provider

Staring at two little pink lines? Not sure what your next step is for your Winnipeg pregnancy? We’ve got you covered.

The first concern on most families’ minds after getting that positive pregnancy test is to find a care provider that aligns with their views. If you are looking at a Winnipeg pregnancy, you have a couple options. Lucky you!

1. Find an OBGYN

Winnipeg is home to some fabulous doctors who specialize in Obstetrics, commonly known as an OBGYN or an OB. Most will practice out of only one of our birthing hospitals- Women’s Hospital at Health Sciences Centre, or St Boniface Hospital. Make sure that if you have a preference, you choose a doctor who delivers at that hospital. To find an OB in Winnipeg, you can go to your family doctor and ask for a referral, or you can call an office yourself if you have an idea of whom you would like to use for your Winnipeg pregnancy.

2. Find a Family Doctor

A great option bridging the gap between an OBGYN or a midwife is to have a family doctor continue your care during pregnancy and birth. While there aren’t a ton, there are some family doctors in Winnipeg who still provide pregnancy and delivery care. Family doctors tend to see only patients who are lower risk, and can be a great choice for someone in Winnipeg experiencing a normal, low risk pregnancy and wanting a hospital birth with perhaps lower intervention, and a higher chance of having your own provider at the delivery. If your own family doctor does not attend births, you can use the Family Doctor Finder to put you in touch with one.

One particular Family doctor that gets a lot of attention for families with a pregnancy in Winnipeg is Dr Reynolds. Dr Reynolds practices out of Women’s Hospital Outpatient Department at Health Sciences Centre, and is lovingly referred to by many as a “midwife in a white coat”. Dr Reynolds is well known for his gentle, low key demeanor and his openness to allow the birthing person to trust their intuition and labor and birth as they feel comfortable. I have heard stories of him allowing dads to catch baby, of assisting deliveries on the floor, and even just spending a labor sitting quietly in the rocking chair, holding space for the family. If you would like to contact him for your Winnipeg pregnancy, Dr Reynolds can be reached at 204-787-1781.

3. Apply for a midwife.

Midwives are awesome. They are also in high demand! If you are considering midwifery care, I highly suggest you reach out as early as you can! Midwifery in Manitoba is covered under provincial health. That means that if you qualify to see an OB under your Manitoba Health plan, you also qualify for a free Winnipeg midwife. There are no extra fees associated with this service! In addition, you do not need a referral from another health care professional. Your Winnipeg midwife will provide care during pregnancy, birth and for six weeks postpartum to both you and the baby.  Find more information about midwives here: http://midwivesofmanitoba.ca/what-is-a-midwife/

In Winnipeg, please call the Centralized Intake Line at (204) 947-2422 ext 307. This will direct you to the Birth Centre, who will call you back to do a full intake. They will distribute your midwifery intake information to all the Winnipeg midwives to determine if someone can accept you. There is no need to call all the midwifery sites, and no need to continue to call back repeatedly.

You should hear back whether you have been accepted or denied a midwife in Winnipeg within 2-6 weeks. Sometimes it may take longer if they are very busy. Please be patient and remember that each midwife generally takes the time to read through your intake form- this takes time!

Once you have been accepted into care for a Winnipeg midwife, you will be assigned a midwife team and will book for your first meeting.

You can see a list of all registered midwives in Manitoba at the following link: http://www.midwives.mb.ca/Register%20of%20Practising%20and%20Non-Practising%20Midwives%20May%208%202017%20je.pdf  If you are considering entering into care with a midwife who is NOT on that list of registered midwives, please contact the college directly. It is very important that you make sure your midwife has been properly educated and registered, and the college can help you to determine if this is the case. The college of Midwives of Manitoba can be reached at (204) 783-4520 or emails sent General Inquiries: admin@midwives.mb.ca

After you’ve chosen your medical care provider, don’t forget to hire your doula too 😉 Doulas are professionals who specialize in physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy and birth, and are able to be with you each step of the way throughout. They’re passionate about assisting families in labor to feel supported and satisfied with their birth outcomes. For more information, stop by my Services page today!