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What to do when labour starts

Alright, so you've been patiently waiting for nine long months and finally, the moment has arrived - labour has started! It's an exciting and slightly nerve-wracking time, but fear not, I'm here to guide you through what to do when labour kicks off. 

How will you know it has started? Well, there are various signs, and you may experience all, some, or none of them. A runny tummy a few days pre-ceding is common as your body clears out in preparation. You may lose your mucus plug, have a bloody show, and have some light contractions starts. These are all indicators but can also occur up to a few weeks before. Waters breaking as the first sign is a lot less common that Hollywood leads us to believe. The best way to be sure is having contractions which build in intensity and frequency over a period of time, such as a day or so. Early labour can be very stop start.  

First things first, when you think it has started, don't panic. Labour is a natural process that your body has been designed to handle. In many cases you will have quite a while before it’s in full swing, so let's get down to the nitty-gritty of what to do practically, physically, and logistically. 

pregnant woman watching TV

You don’t want to peak too soon, and start using all your tools and techniques the minute you feel a stomach cramp. For as long as you can try to almost ‘ignore’ it and carry on. Go for a nice walk in nature, rest as much as possible, and try to chomp down a hearty meal. This early part is the time to prepare your body for the marathon ahead. If you immediately start drawing on your techniques, by hour 12 you will have burnt out and be done with it all, so pace yourself. Your hypnobirthing breathing techniques, and oxytocin enhancing activities should be enough to support you through the beginning stage. Positive birth affirmations can help give you confidence, so have some stuck up around your home as a constant reminder to trust yourself, your body and your baby. You can read my favourite HERE.

As contractions intensify, then comes the time to use your hypnobirthing techniques to help you manage the sensations of the contractions. There will be this period of time before you head to the hospital or wherever you plan to give birth, where medical pain relief is unavailable (if that’s what you’re choosing) so draw on all you have learnt. It’s a good idea for your birth partner to be with you from this point and help with your techniques. Breathing, visualisations, massage, the list goes on (just refer to your course workbook to the A-Z of comfort measures). 

Physically, try to find ways to stay comfortable. Labour can be intense, so it's important to listen to your body and do what feels right for you. Maybe that means moving around, taking a warm bath, using a birth ball or trying different positions. Your baby is communicating with you and telling you to move to free space for them to move down, so listen to your body and do what works best for you. A birth comb can also be really powerful. You can read how it works HERE.

pregnant woman on a birth ball

Logistically, make sure you have everything you need ready to go. Pack a bag with essentials like comfortable clothes, toiletries, snacks, drinks, and any birth plan or important documents you may need. If you have other children or pets, make arrangements for them to be taken care of while you're in labour. And don't forget to have your transport sorted. 

As a birth educator, my aim is to empower couples to have a positive birth experience. So, remember that you have choices and options when it comes to labour and birth. You have the right to advocate for yourself and your baby, so don't be afraid to speak up and communicate your preferences to your healthcare providers. 

I teach couples to prepare for their once in a lifetime experience. In today’s ‘one size fits all’ maternity system, it’s more important than ever to take control of your own experience. After all, you wouldn’t leave your wedding planning to a total stranger would you, so birth should be no different. You can email me at chat about my courses, and read more about them HERE. If you’re still on the fence about Hypnobirthing and whether it will work for you, you can read more information about it HERE and HERE.

My inbox is always open.  


Victoria xxx 


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