Labor Day was originally created to celebrate the labor movement in our country, but there is another labor that is even more vital – the labor that leads to the birth of your baby. What causes that labor to start?

Back at the time of Hippocrates people believed that the reason babies were head down in the uterus was so they could push with their legs to start labor and push themselves out. At many points in history, people assumed that labor began when a woman was ripe, and it didn’t depend much, if at all, on the baby.

Then in the 20th century, studies in sheep and cows proved that labor was started by hormones released by lambs and calves. But humans, it turns out, are different.

The decision to start labor appears to emerge from a silent, dynamic dialogue between Mom and Baby. Complex biochemical signals race back and forth until the two are in agreement. Regardless of who makes the initial suggestion or asks if the other is ready, fetal hormones send the signal to get the process going in Mom’s uterus muscle where labor begins.

No matter how long you’ve waited, something happens when those (albeit painful) contractions of labor begin -- you know that the moment you’ve all been waiting for is finally approaching. Very soon now, the unfolding drama of development will shift to a baby you can see, and who can see you… to baby feet you can press on an inkpad and touch to a piece of paper, instead of feeling dancing inside a belly.

In many ways, though, the wonder of your baby’s unfolding development does not change at birth. The same natural choreography continues – without parents' causing it or even necessarily being aware of it. It’s an everyday miracle you get to watch and nurture and enjoy, but that you don’t have to work to make happen. Our roles as parents adjust with each new phase of development, but they all come down to new ways of doing the same things we did during pregnancy – providing a safe, nurturing, and gently stimulating environment for our children.

As a father of four himself, Dr. Alan Greene has devoted himself to freely giving real answers to parents' real questions - learn more about Dr. Greene and other parental tips he has at