Whether you’re a soon to be mommy or a proud daddy, a support person or a well-prepared taxi driver, it’s a good idea to know what you should do when the contractions start. Every pregnancy takes its own journey, no two pregnancies are the same. For this reason, being prepared or ready is a term I’ll use loosely. Unfortunately, your baby’s arrival date is not an exact science. Your doctor or midwife can give you an estimate, but entry into the world is all a baby’s choice.

When labor contractions begin, you’ll feel your abdomen tighten up. You may even notice that the tightening is moving in waves directed towards your pelvis. Your pelvis may even start to hurt. Perhaps your water will break with a contraction, perhaps not. They won’t subside if you change positions or eat or drink something like Braxton-Hicks contractions. Labor contractions will continue at regular intervals and they will intensify. Even if they aren’t super uncomfortable at first, the discomfort will come.

Tell People

Unless you’re planning on delivering your baby all alone, you want to first alert your partner or your support person that your contractions have begun. It’s a good idea to allow that person to notify your midwife, doula or obstetrician just in case a wave of pain comes over your and leaves you speechless or grunting in pain.

Before calling your healthcare provider, it’s a good idea to time how long the contractions are lasting and the amount of time between contractions. A hands-free pregnancy tracker makes this part really easy. This information can help your doctor or midwife make certain decisions or offer you specific instructions. And if you have other children, now is the time to alert your babysitter, whoever they may be.

Try to Relax

This may be really difficult to do if you’re feeling really anxious or nervous. After all, you will soon be meeting the little person who’s been inside you all these months. Trying to relax can do a lot more for you than you may realize. It can help ease labor some. You can try taking a hot shower if you are comfortable doing so. You can allow your partner or support person to give you a massage. Try moving around if you’re up to it. Walking, swaying your hips or dancing can help ease discomfort and may even help labor to progress more quickly.

Distract Yourself

The early stage of labor tends to be the longest. It helps to take your mind off of things to do something else. You can do a little light cleaning or some last-minute preparations in the baby’s new room. Make sure you stay hydrated while you distract yourself by reading a book, preparing a snack or taking inventory of your birthing bag to make sure that you have everything you need.

When labor contractions begin there is usually no rush to get to the hospital. Just make sure that you alert your healthcare professional when they begin and follow their instructions. Remember to stay calm and listen to your body. You’ve got this.