When Is It Time to Call the Hospital?


Everyone’s labour is different and women will come into labour at different points in their pregnancy. Some babies are born prematurely, others are born at ‘term’ (37-weeks onwards). Some are delivered late. Once they are ready to enter the world, it can be both exciting and a bit unnerving when your waters break, and you’re left wondering "what do I do now?" It’s easy to assume you should head to the hospital at the first sign of contractions, but that may end up in you being sent home to wait until contractions are closer together.

If you’re expecting your first baby, it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether you’re in early labour or not, as for some, it could last for a few hours or even a few days. The irregular contractions or tightenings you may feel, can signify that your cervix is softening, the baby is getting into position and your pelvis is getting ready. These pains will feel a lot like period cramps.

When Should I Ring the Hospital During Labour?

  • If your waters break.
  • If you have vaginal bleeding.
  • If you have been having regular contractions lasting at least 60 seconds (every 2 to 3 minutes) and are likely having these for quite a few hours.
  • If you need pain management.
  • If you have concerns regarding your baby's movement.

Having confirmation from a midwife that it is finally time to have the baby, or to just wait a little longer and watch some TV, can also be reassuring. When they tell you to come in, head straight there.

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What if I Think Something is Wrong During Labour?

Call your midwife or hospital straight away if:

  • You’re having proper contractions and have not yet reached full term.
  • You feel there have been changes to your baby’s regular movements.
  • Your contractions are too severe for you to cope with.

When Do I Head to the Hospital To Have My Baby?

Being in your home surroundings is often a great comfort and can help labour run smoother, with higher levels of oxytocin keeping you calm. Some people even opt for a home birth for this reason. But once you’re ready, you’ve spoken to the hospital and your contractions are coming thick and fast, it may be time to make a move. Once a midwife has confirmed you’re in established labour upon your arrival, fingers crossed, it shouldn’t be too long now.

If you have been given any information specifically related to your individual circumstances or if your pregnancy is high risk, please follow those instructions.

Don't forget to take your hospital bag with you! Have you packed it yet? If not visit here so you don't leave anything at home!

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