What to Expect: How Will My Labor Start

Waiting and waiting for your sweet baby


You are waiting for labor to start so that you can meet your baby, what can you expect when labor starts?

Is it really like the movies? Water breaking and gushing all over Isle 12 of the grocery store followed by intense contractions, contraction so intense you’ll be pushing your baby out in less than an hour? No, it’s not really like the movies, especially for those giving birth for the first time.

It’s not really like the movies, promise

How does labor start?

Labor can start in a few ways and we want to share those with you and then share some tips on managing labor as it starts!

Labor can start in any one of the following ways':

  • Slow build up of contractions ( 20 min apart, then 15, then 10, then 7, then 5, then 2 min apart until you are pushing your baby out)

  • You loose your mucus plug before labor contractions begin and also experience some bloody show with loss of mucus plug

  • Your water breaks ( only happens with about 10% of women)

  • You have somewhat irregular contractions that eventually regulate, labor is not always clearly defined and easy to predict

How to navigate labor starting

When you think labor has finally begun on its own, it is time to call your support team, be that your Doula, a family member or both! Usually your partner is already aware of contractions or water breaking, but if not, you should also tell them! Your support team can also help you determine if labor really has begun or if it is just practice contractions aka intense braxton hicks.

Once you know labor has begun, just go with the flow, stay comfortable and ensure your support team is notified. If you are planning a vbac or GBS positive, you may need to go into the hospital or birth center early, if not you will want to arrive at the hospital in late active labor.

Late active labor??

When you finally hit active labor, which is typically contractions lasting 1 min long, 5 min apart and have been coming for over an hour, you have JUST entered active labor. Now, you will need to let it continue to build and intensify. Once active labor has begun, usually 3-4 hours after is a good time to consider going into your chosen birthing location with your birth support team. Understanding more about labor can be done at a comprehensive childbirth education class that is designed to meet all of your needs and will focus on overall education.

Labor can start in different ways for different women, and with each pregnancy, labor often starts differently as well. Different baby, different experience.

Remember, you are amazing!

Coming soon, we will talk about staying comfortable in early labor before you go to the hospital!