• Maria Varvoutis, MPH, CD, PCD

"I think I'm going into labor, now what?"

Updated: Jan 11

So here we are. You've been feeling Braxton Hicks contractions for possibly months now, but now these pains are different and are radiating around your pregnant belly from the lower front to the back and are coming more frequently.

I often get called when this occurs as there can be uncertainty for many if they are really in labor, how soon they should they should go to their chosen birthing place, and if they should take any further steps.

Just as a I tell my clients in their prenatal session--IT IS UP TO YOU. It is also up to the style of birth that you would like to have, and your varied comfort level with waiting it out in your home. It has been proven that laboring as long as possible in your place of comfort can help progress the labor in a more effective manner. The bright lights and many questions found in a hospital setting often slow labor down significantly.


  • Call/text your doula to talk through what you are feeling. This really can give you a peace of mind as you struggle with possibly not feeling ready to give birth and/or confusion about whether or not you are going into labor.

  • Depending on where your birth space is you can also call your labor and delivery department about your symptoms. They are happy to answer your questions too!


  • Depending on the time of day you may feel like taking a walk to really get these contractions going, OR you can go lay down. It never hurts to rest a bit and see if the contractions subside. The marathon will start soon enough.

  • Go take a relaxing shower or bath if your water has not broken. The power of warm, relaxing water is why many choose to ultimately birth in the water!

  • Wanting to get these contractions moving more? The following things can help.

  • Figure 8's on a ball

  • Walking up and down on a curb

  • Walking up and down sideways on stairs

  • Sex

  • Orgasms

  • Nipple Stimulation

  • Feeling in your safe space with your partner

  • Miles Circuit


  • Now that you’re starting to feel contractions—how close together are they? 10 minutes? 4 minutes? This makes a difference and can help you and your birth team gauge what part of labor you are in. A contraction app can really help with this step too as it can take any room for human error.

  • Small bits of your mucus plug may be falling out WEEKS or HOURS before your start going into active/early labor. It looks like snot with blood in it.

  • Your water may break, may have been slowly leaking for weeks, may be broken by the doctor, or may break at various parts of your labor in bits or all at once. There is no telling, but this a complete game changer if it noticeably breaks. Please contact your medical provider and doula when this has occurred.

  • Okay, birth partner! Depending on how your labor is going to progress it is always helpful to have the following on hand in your bag: mints for nausea, your choice of water (ie coconut water, electrolyte packets), protein snacks, honey sticks.

A great way to prepare for the signs of labor is to take some childbirth education courses from myself or other great resources found in your community or on the web.

It can also be EXTREMELY helpful to listen and read to other's birth stories. The more you become familiar with how birth may progress, the more comfortable you will be with your own! Some great resources for this can be found on Evidence Based Birth's Blog section on Childbirth Class and The Birth Hour podcast.

And finally, if you have chosen to hire a doula I would immediately call them. They want to know, and to help support you! If you haven't already found one, check out the many probably already in your community on doulamatch.net.

All the best,


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