Twitter, the royal baby and a leading British tabloid have come together to produce a memorable headline after rumours the Duchess of Cambridge had gone into labour proved false.

Twitter was lit up on Thursday afternoon London time with suggestions Prince William's wife had gone into labour.

With the speculation trending and palace spokespeople refusing to comment it was left to The Mirror newspaper to put the rumours to bed.

"Kate Middleton is not in labour - but Twitter is having Braxton Hicks contractions ahead of royal baby's arrival," the tabloid declared in an online headline.

Braxton Hicks contractions are, as the NHS explains on its website, "irregular, usually painless uterine contractions (that) tend to occur from around the middle of your pregnancy and increase in frequency as your due date nears".

The founder of parenting website Mumsnet appears to have kicked off Thursday's labour Twitter frenzy.

Justine Roberts tweeted: "Hearing that Kate's gorn into labour."

Subsequently other royal watchers tweeted that a helicopter had taken off from Kensington Palace.

But hours and hundreds of retweets later Roberts had to confess she'd cried wolf.

"Am firing my sources," she tweeted.

Kate is expected to give birth at the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington. Her due date is thought to be Saturday.

Many of the journalists and camera crews camped outside the Lindo Wing weren't even aware of the Twitter frenzy on Thursday evening.

Some have been on "baby watch" duty for almost a fortnight.

Up to a dozen have been staying overnight but some news outlets are simply paying guards to watch their equipment and secure their patch of pavement.

The paparazzi have marked their territory with hundreds of metal step ladders.

Many are adorned with identification tags containing jokes including "Please don't feed the photographers", "We will pay you to take away" and "As seen on TV".

Television crews from Australia have been on the ground for over a week and because of the time difference reporters are often doing live crosses at night.

But because the hospital is next to a canal it can be pretty cold early in the morning even though it's summer in London.

 

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