Birth - frequently asked questions

When do I come to hospital?

Seek advice or come to hospital if:

  • Your waters break – put on a sanitary pad, note the time, the colour and amount of water then call your midwife or the hospital.
  • Your contractions become painful, regular and are occurring at least five minutes apart (this timing will depend on your personal history, circumstances and will be discussed in your pregnancy).
  • Labour has commenced and you have been advised to attend hospital early.
  • You are experiencing signs of labour and you have a planned caesarean birth.
  • You have a known medical or pregnancy condition that means you will require closer monitoring than usual in labour
  • Your baby’s movements have changed, or you are worried about your baby’s movements.

Call ‘000’ for an ambulance if:

  • You think your labour is progressing very quickly and you won’t make it to hospital.
  • You experience heavy bleeding (similar to first day of a period) or have a severe headache and blurred vision.

In this guide:

  1. When does labour start?
  2. When will my waters break?
  3. How long does labour last?
  4. What is pre-labour?
  5. What do contractions feel like?
  6. How do I time contractions?
  7. When do I come to hospital?
  8. What do I bring to hospital?
  9. What happens when I get to hospital?
  10. What if my labour is progressing slowly?
  11. What is the best position for giving birth?
  12. What is an episiotomy?
  13. How will my baby be monitored during labour?
  14. What is a CTG?
  15. Why do I need internal (vaginal) examinations?
  16. Can I take my placenta home?
  17. How do I register my baby’s birth?

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