What To Do When Labor Starts? 13 Effective Actions

What to do when labor starts? Knowing what to do is important. especially for first-time parents. It helps you prepare and keeps your mental health at ease.

Here, I share with you 13 helpful things that any mother-to-be should do when a baby is ready to be born and a list of what you should not do to ensure everything goes well.

What To Do When Labor Starts? 

what to do when labor starts

You should call  your doctor, stay calm, drink water, rest, and measure the time between contractions.

If contractions get stronger, go to the hospital. Follow your doctor’s advice for a smooth experience welcoming your baby.

Contact Healthcare Provider

What should I do when labor starts? Labor can hit you anytime; it even starts while sleeping. Whenever it happens, the first thing you must do is contact your healthcare provider.

They know about delivery and can guide you. They can provide advice if you’re unsure about signs of labor, like regular patterns of uterine contractions or if your amniotic fluid breaks.

Aside from explaining what’s happening, they will recommend whether it’s time to head to the hospital or birth center.

Time Contractions

Count your contractions using a clock. To measure contractions, begin when your belly gets tight and stops when it gets soft again.

The measuring helps know if you’re in true labor or have Braxton Hicks contractions.

If they happen every 5 minutes and last around 1 minute, you might be in active labor. Besides, true labor contractions hurt more and don’t stop when you move.

Otherwise, in false labor, contractions might not come at regular intervals. These contractions usually don’t get stronger over time. 

Stay Hydrated & Nourished

How do you progress labor once it starts? Drink water and eat small snacks during labor. These things give you energy and keep you hydrated.

You might not feel hungry, but your body needs “fuel,” as it is working hard. Healthy women in stages of labor still need water and some food, even though it’s hard to eat a lot.

But how do you know how much to eat? In my experience, starting with small amounts is okay, then listen to your body. As for water, sipping is key. Take sips whenever you can.

Rest And Relax

Labor can be a long journey. On average, the first stage of labor can last anywhere from a few hours to around 12-18 hours for first-time mothers.

However, sometimes, it can be up to 24 hours. Therefore, rest whenever you can to save energy once your baby is ready to come out of the birth canal.

Can I sleep through early labor? You might ask. Yes, sleeping through the early stages of labor is often possible, especially during the latent phase.

During this phase, contractions might be milder and less frequent, which are still manageable and not too uncomfortable.  

Pack Essentials

Here is my recommended list:

  • Comfy clothes: Loose-fitting pajamas or a nightgown, clean underwear, and some socks.
  • Toothbrush: Brushing your teeth can make you feel fresh and more at ease.
  • Snacks: Like granola bars or crackers, in case you get hungry during labor.
  • Cozy blanket/pillow from home: These make you comfy and familiarize better with the hospital’s atmosphere.
  • Your phone and charger: You might want to let your loved ones know that things are starting to happen, or you might want to capture some special moments.
  • The music you love: Create a playlist or calming tunes that make you happy.

Practice Breathing Techniques

During labor, practice slow, deep breaths. As contractions come and go, it helps manage pain and gives you something to focus on.

You can also do other breathing exercises you learned in childbirth classes. Breathe deeply through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth. The rhythm helps reduce tension and anxiety. 

As you try to concentrate on your breath, you divert your attention from the pain and focus on something positive.

It’s a simple but powerful way to stay calm and centered during intense moments of labor.

Move Around

Changing positions can help labor go smoother. Try: 

  • Sitting on a birthing ball
  • Standing while leaning on a surface
  • Swaying your hips
  • Taking short walks around the room 

These movements can encourage your baby to move down the birth canal. You use gravity as a supporter when you sway the hips or walk. 

Overall, it helps your baby find a better position for birth. It might even relieve pressure and pain brought by contractions.

Use Comfort Measures

Find things that make you comfortable.

  • Warm Baths: Taking a warm bath can assist in relaxing your muscles and relieve the intensity of contractions.
  • Massage: Gentle massages can help alleviate tension and stress. 
  • Hot Packs: Applying a warm or hot pack to your lower back or abdomen can provide warmth and comfort, which can be especially soothing during contractions.
  • Holding Onto Support: Your support person can be a great source of comfort. Holding onto their hand, hugging them, or leaning against them during contractions can provide a sense of security and connection.

Distraction And Relaxation

When labor is intense, finding ways to distract your mind from the pain can provide much-needed relief. One effective method is using distraction through soothing activities:

  • Music: Slow melodies or favorite tunes can shift your focus from the pain.
  • Visual Distractions: If you’re in a setting that allows it, watching a TV show, movie, or even a nature video can divert your attention from the pain.
  • Guided Imagery: Imagine yourself in a peaceful place, like a serene beach or a tranquil forest. The technique can transport your mind to a different setting and help you feel less stressed.

Support Person

Have someone with you for support, like your partner or a family member. These support people can accompany you through the phase of labor and encourage you.

  • Emotional Support: Your support person, whether your friend, family member, or partner, can provide emotional reassurance and comfort.
  • Advocacy: Your support person can advocate for your preferences and needs.
  • Physical Comfort: Your support person can assist with comfort measures like massage, holding your hand, or helping you change positions.
  • Information and decisions: They can help you remember information discussed with healthcare providers and support you in making informed decisions during labor.

Monitor The Baby’s Movements

Keep an eye on how your baby moves. They should still move during labor. When you notice less movement, tell your healthcare provider. They can check if everything’s okay.

  • Expected Movements: While the intensity of contractions might change the frequency of their movements, you should still feel some wiggles, kicks, or rolls.
  • Signs of Concern: If you notice a significant decrease in your baby’s movements or if they seem unusually quiet, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Trust Your Instincts: Suppose something doesn’t feel right or you’re worried about your baby’s movements; please contact your healthcare provider.

Stay Informed

Knowing what to expect during labor makes you more prepared and less worried. Learn about:

  • The stages of labor: The first stage is when your cervix opens up. The second stage is when your baby comes out. Learning about these stages helps you feel more ready.
  • The latent phase. Knowing about the latent phase helps you understand that labor might not start with big contractions right away.

It’s like the early steps of labor. Being informed can lift some worries off your shoulder to prepare for what’s ahead.

Maintain Calm

Try to stay calm during labor. It can be tough, but being relaxed will be of great help. If you’re worried, remember you’re in good hands with your healthcare provider.

They know how to handle things, even if you need a labor induction or have quick labor. Your blood pressure and heart rate can stay more stable if you’re calm.

What Not To Do When Labor Starts? 

Can I sleep through early labor

Ignore Signs

Don’t ignore signs of labor like strong contractions, water breaking, or bloody discharge. These are signals labor has started.

Skip Hydration And Nutrition

Avoid skipping water and food. Labor needs energy. Stay hydrated and eat small, nourishing snacks.

Engage In Strenuous Activities

Don’t do heavy lifting or tiring tasks. Rest your body instead to preserve energy for labor.

Allow Unnecessary Stress

Avoid stress and stay calm to help labor progress smoothly. Stress can worsen the pain and slow things down.

Delay Communication

Don’t wait to tell your healthcare provider when labor begins. Early communication ensures proper guidance and support.

Maintain a Negative Mindset

Stay positive, as negative thoughts can exacerbate your pain and worries. Think of the moment you welcome your long-waited little angel.

Isolate Yourself

Sometimes your supporter cannot stick around you. But don’t be absolutely alone. Stay with someone who can help since isolation can increase anxiety and hinder progress.

Disregard Medical Advice

Trust your healthcare provider’s expertise and follow medical guidance. Ignoring advice can lead to complications.

Use Unproven Remedies

Avoid untested remedies or medicines. Only use what your healthcare provider recommends for your safety.

Excessively Use Phone or Devices

Limit phone use because too much screen time can distract you from labor’s progress and relaxation techniques.

Neglect Rest

Don’t forget to rest. Lack of sleep weakens you, while rest gives you a hand to cope with arduous labor.

Overexert Yourself

Steer clear from overexertion. Pushing too hard can drain the energy required for labor’s challenges.


How can I ease the pain of contractions

What To Do If Labor Starts At Home?

The first thing is always stay calm and keep track of the contractions. Then, check for some signs of real labor and call your healthcare provider for further advice.

How Can I Ease The Pain Of Contractions?

Consult your doctor for guidance. Some solutions include Soothing contraction pain with deep breaths, warm baths, massages, and movement.

Remember, every woman’s experience is unique during this important time. Stay calm and follow your doctor’s advice.


That is everything about what to do when labor starts. The main thing is to stay calm. It might be tough for first-time moms, but experience breeds confidence.

Listen to your body and stay positive; this helps you stay in control. Your precious baby is almost here. Follow your doctor’s advice, and you guys will be just fine.

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