Disclaimer: Please note that information in this section may not be 100% correct, so please consult your health care provider if you have questions or concerns.
When Labour Has Begun
If your water has broken before labour has begun, you need to decide how long you are willing to go with your water broken (the 24 hour “doctor limit”, or days..). If labour hasn’t begun within a few hours, you can try a warm bath, nipple stimulation (oxytocin), going for a walk, or do a few stretches to help spur on labour, or drop baby a bit lower into your pelvis.
If you go into labour naturally, starting with mild contractions, time them to see how long they last and how far apart they are. You could try sitting in a bath - just note that this could either ease them off or make them come on stronger. Try going for a long walk, climbing stairs, hip rotations on a birth ball, squatting, or dancing.
If you’ve been up for a while, or haven’t had much sleep, this would also be a great time to get as much rest as you can. Then, once you are well rested, you will feel much more prepared for the work ahead!
*Remember that natural oxytocin is the best hormone for labour, so anything to release oxytocin, can do your body (and mind) wonders; watching a funny movie, intercourse (**no intercourse if your water has broken**), pumping/nipple stimulation, dancing, etc.
If you are planning a home birth, you may want to start getting things ready and calling people, at the onset of labour. Each person will determine when is the right time to join you, but at least this gives them the heads up, so that they can get their affairs in order.
Once contractions are stronger and closer together, it may be time to have someone fill the tub, because this can take a while, depending on the size of your hot water tank. *If you run out of hot water from the tap, you may need to boil some water in large pots, on the stove.
Keeping busy around the house may be a great distraction during labour, or you can savour the experience by dimming the lights, putting on some relaxing music, and finding a comfortable labour spot, with water and snacks nearby.
Heading to the hospital
*You can skip this part if you are planning a home birth. Once you have determined that you are in fact in labour, it is best to labour for a while at home, before heading to the hospital (unless you are far from the hospital or birthing center, or have a history of fast labours). *If you are GBS positive and would like the antibiotics, then you will have to head in sooner than later, for your first dose.If your contractions are getting stronger, closer together, and lasting around 1 minute long, then it’s probably time to head in. Once you arrive at the hospital or center, you may first be taken to triage (unless baby is crowning, or your contractions are really strong with minimal breaks in-between), and you will be assessed, checked for dilation, and may be asked a few questions. If you are determined to be 4 or more centimeters, then you are considered to be in active labour, and will probably be taken to a delivery room.