What Causes Labor To Start? 16 Reasons That You Must Know

What causes labor to start? Knowing these triggers can help you monitor and better control your pregnancy. Here, I share the 16 common reasons that contribute to the onset of labor.

I also provide the symptoms when the process begins and recommend the best ways to go to labor. Let’s jump into the details!

What Causes Labor To Start? 

what causes labor to start

Hormone changes trigger contractions, leading to labor starting. Besides, the combination of genetic, environmental, maternal, and fetal-related factors contribute to the process.

This is when the baby’s journey begins, and it’s time for childbirth.


What makes labor start? Well, scientists have been trying to figure out why labor starts, but it’s still a bit of a mystery.

Some ideas suggest that telomeres, the small parts located at the tips of our DNA strands, could play a role.

They’re more present when a pregnant woman is about to give birth, and they might signal the baby that it’s time to come out.

However, this idea isn’t fully proven yet.


As your baby’s tiny lungs grow, they create a special thing called SP-A – the surfactant protein, like a helping tool.

This SP-A is there to make breathing easier for your baby when it’s born.

Now, when it’s almost time for birth, at the late pregnancy stage, this SP-A doesn’t just sit around. It wakes up some special soldiers called “immune cells.”

These soldiers keep the uterus clean from bad stuff like bacteria & viruses.

Then, these soldiers go to the wall of the uterus to encourage the inflammatory response, contributing to the softening of the cervix and uterine contractions process, which could be why labor begins.

Physical Activity: Walking

What triggers labor to begin? Your body becomes active when you’re moving around, especially doing something like walking. 

The  activity could lead to uterine contractions, which cause little squeezes in your belly. These contractions can help your baby move towards the birth canal.

When your baby’s in the right position, walking can lead to the onset of labor.

Essentially, the motion from walking prompts your muscles, like those in your uterus, to work, and it might signal the baby that it’s time to make its way into the world.

Clinician-mediated Trigger

In the journey to start labor, medical experts sometimes play a role. They might use methods like:

Rupture of Membranes

They use a small tool that looks like a thin hook. They gently reach inside the cervix and make a tiny hole in the water bag surrounding the baby to make the water come out.

The interference can sometimes help labor start by signaling to the body that it’s time for the baby to come out.

Medical Inductions 

What causes labor contractions to start? labor after induction is one possible option. It’s when doctors use special medicine to make the uterus start contracting.

This can be done through a tiny tube in the vagina or an IV tube in the arm.

The contractions are like the muscles squeezing to begin labor. It’s a way to get things going when the body needs help.

These methods are to encourage the delivery process. However, the decision is based entirely on your healthcare provider to ensure safety.

They have to proceed with a vaginal exam before making any decision.

Natural Phenomenon

When it’s time for the baby to be born, sometimes, the body starts preparing for labor without needing any assistance or medicines.

People call the phenomenon a natural birth, vaginal birth, or vaginal delivery.

Muscles get ready, hormones kick in, and the baby’s position might shift. It’s pretty incredible how the body follows this natural flow.

Physical Trigger: Sexual Activity

What causes you to go into labor? Some people think that having sexual activity could give labor a little nudge.

When you engage in sexual intercourse, certain chemicals are released into the body. These chemicals might work in a way that encourages labor to start. 

While it’s not a guaranteed method and might not work for everyone, it plays a role in kick-starting labor.

Please keep in mind the risk of infection might occur when engaging in this activity. I recommend that you should consult with your health care provider first.

Ingesting Something

What makes you go into labor

It could be because  you have consumed certain foods or even tried some oil in pregnancy, for instance, castor oil (especially for premature rupture cases).

Some believe that specific foods or substances might facilitate the uterus to contract. However, it’s essential to emphasize that this method should be cautiously approached.

Seeking advice from a healthcare provider is a must before attempting anything like this.

Your healthcare professional can guide you to ensure your and your baby’s safety and well-being.

So, while this concept is intriguing, always prioritize health and safety by seeking professional advice before taking in any food or drink to encourage labor.

Emotional Trigger

What can induce labor? Emotional triggers can.

The idea behind an emotional trigger is that when a pregnant woman’s body is truly prepared and feels a sense of safety and comfort, it might be all set for labor.

Strong emotions, like excitement or even a deep sense of relaxation, could act as a catalyst.

This connection between emotions and labor onset showcases the intricate way in which our mind and body work together during the incredible journey of childbirth.

Maternal Illness

Maternal illness refers to health conditions that a pregnant woman might experience. In some cases, certain illnesses could influence the timing of labor.

For example, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placental abruption, and other pregnancy-related complications.

Chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, certain infections, or underlying medical conditions might also impact when labor starts.

Progesterone Withdrawal

During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone helps keep things calm and steady in the womb. It supports creating a cozy environment for the baby.

But when it’s time for labor, the body starts reducing the amount of progesterone. This decrease is a trigger, signaling that the body is preparing for birth.


When the body is getting ready for childbirth, prostaglandins soften and ripen the cervix (cervical ripening), making it more flexible and ready for the baby to pass through during labor.

At this point labor might be coming.

Stretching Of The Uterus and Cervix

As the due date approaches, the body’s ingenious design comes into play. When the baby grows larger and the uterus expands, it naturally stretches the cervix.

This stretching could be like a gentle push, signaling the body that it’s time to gear up for labor.

Fetal Hormones – Cortisol

As the baby grows and develops in the womb, its body produces cortisol, too. Towards the end of pregnancy, the levels of cortisol rise.

It’s believed that this increase in cortisol can be a part of the overall complex interplay of factors that eventually lead to the onset of labor.

Fetal Position

How can I go into labor? Change your baby’s position. As the due date rolls around, the baby might naturally shift its position.

Sometimes, when the baby moves into a certain position, it might put pressure on the cervix or the surrounding area. This pressure could stimulate the body to start labor.

Genetic Factors

While it’s not fully understood how genetic factors impact labor, evidence suggests that they have a say in when labor might begin. 

Some women might tend to go into labor earlier or later than others due to their genetic traits.

In my family, for instance, babies tend to arrive on the later side, according to my family tree.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors encompass various elements, from the air we breathe to the stress we experience.

For example, living in an area with high pollution levels might influence the body’s internal processes, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Exposure to elevated pollution can force the body to respond in various ways.

In certain cases, it’s been observed that exposure to air pollution might increase the likelihood of earlier labor than expected.

The pollutants in the air could potentially interact with the body’s hormonal balance or inflammation response, causing the baby to come out sooner.

On the other hand, environmental factors can also have a delaying effect.

Stressors from the environment, such as noise pollution or hectic urban living, might lead to the body postponing labor as a protective response.

Typical Signs That Indicate The Start Of Labor 

how can i go into labor

Regular Contractions

When a pregnant person is getting ready to have a baby, one sign is having regular contractions. These are like strong squeezing feelings in the belly.

They come and go at set times and get stronger over time of active labor. Unlike Braxton Hicks that feels irregular, these contractions mean labor might be starting.

Bloody Show

As labor begins, some people might notice a bloody show. In general, it looks like a bit of blood or the release of the mucus plug.

It’s the body’s way of getting ready for birth. If you see this, it could be a sign that things are starting.

When you are a first-time mother, you may be scared to see them. But don’t worry, it’s normal and usually means you’ll see your little angel soon.

Water Breaking

Labor can start after water breaks (aka rupture of membranes). You will feel like a small pop inside the belly, and then some fluid emerges.

Depending on each person, the amount might be a little or a lot. Some might experience a small trickle of fluid, while others could have a more noticeable gush.

When this happens, the baby is ready to come out, and it’s time to head to the hospital.

Back Pain & Cramps

As labor gets going, some people suffer from back pain and cramps. You will feel it clearly in the lower part of the belly and around the back.

They come and go and can be pretty uncomfortable.

However, these sensations show that the body is preparing for the baby’s birth. That is one of the signs of labor.

Pelvic Pressure

When pregnant people are in an active labor process, some have to endure a lot of pelvic pressure. You can notice the lower belly and pelvis weigh down.

The pressure happens because the baby is moving down to get into the right position for birth. If you observe this, it’s a sign that things are progressing.

Diarrhea and Nausea

Diarrhea and vomiting before labor might occur. You can understand that your body is removing some things to make way for the baby.

Honestly, it’s not the most comfortable feeling, but it’s quite common and is not something to worry about.

Cervical Changes

Pregnant women often experience the cervix starting to change when labor is getting closer. It becomes softer and starts to open up.

This might happen slowly over time, and it’s a sign that the body is ready for the baby.

Energy Burst

Some pregnant people feel a sudden energy burst before labor starts, even though you have been tired. It might be the body’s way of preparing for the hard work of labor and birth.

Loss of Appetite

As labor approaches, some people might notice a loss of appetite. You don’t feel like eating much, even when you are hungry.

It’s normal because the body focuses on getting ready for the baby. So, if you’re not hungry, it could be a sign that labor is near.

Note: Please remember that it is normal labor if all the signs above occur after 37 weeks. However, it is preterm labor when they occur before that benchmark.

Best Ways To Go Into Labor

best ways to go into labor

Let The Body Handle The Labor Naturally

One of the best ways to enter labor is to let the body do its thing naturally. It means allowing the process to happen on its own without any medical interventions.

It is known as spontaneous labor.

When the body is ready, it will start showing regular contractions and other signs that indicate the start of labor.

Avoid trying to force things through methods like nipple stimulation, elective labor induction (elective induction), or using a breast pump if it is not recommended by your health care provider.

Braxton Hicks contractions, like practice contractions, might have happened during your menstrual period, but real labor feels stronger and more consistent.

Sexual intercourse is safe during late pregnancy, and while some believe it could help start labor, it’s not a surefire method.

Please remember each pregnancy is different. For example, the second time is totally different for me compared to the first.

In fact, what works for one might not work for another.

Some people experience labor with medications, while others do not. Therefore, always consider the doctor’s advice before trying anything new.

Follow The Doctor’s Advice

Another effective approach to induce labor is by heeding your healthcare provider’s advice. They can share valuable insights, guiding you toward the most suitable action.

Expectant management will be deployed.

If there are any risk factors or concerns, they’ll know how to address them.

Sometimes, a health care provider might suggest some common methods like using evening primrose oil or a balloon with saline to help prepare the cervix for labor.

If a clinician-mediated specific labor trigger is appropriate for you, they will guide you. In case there are any necessary obstetric interventions, they will share with you.

Fetal distress or any previous uterine surgery might influence the doctor’s recommendations.

They might suggest complementary therapy options like intravenous infusion of fluids to support your body. Sometimes, they also recommend cesarean delivery.

Don’t decide anything by yourself, including methods like using castor oil, breast pump or breast stimulation or membrane sweep or any elective induction.

You must listen to your health care provider, discuss your options during childbirth education classes, and focus on what’s right for you.

The goal here is a healthy delivery process and limits any risk factor for you and the baby. Trust your healthcare team and make decisions based on their expertise.


What causes labor to start? Now you get all the deets. Understanding all the reasons behind helps you understand your delivery process better.

As a result, you know what you should and should not do to have healthy labor. The first time may be a bit scary.

However, with the right knowledge and equipment, you and your baby will get all the blessings. Share with me your journey. I’d love to hear. Thank you!

Leave a Comment