When should I go to the hospital?

This is an exciting and confusing part of the labour process. There are a few things which you can do to determine when you should go to the hospital.

For all parents, time your contractions. Look for the 5-1-1 pattern of active labour. Contractions should be occurring every five minutes, for at least one minute and be in this pattern for one hour. This only applies to first time moms. For second / third or more time parents, listen to your doctor or midwife's advice and head to hospital earlier as labour and birth are faster with each delivery. This also depends on how dilated you already were at your most recent exam (usually checked after 38 weeks).

If your water breaks, you should go to the hospital and/or call your midwife for further instructions and to assess your labour progress. You should go to hospital if your water breaks and

  • You are less than 37 weeks pregnant (preterm)

  • Your water is green or brown in colour (meconium)

  • There is bright red bleeding or constant pain

  • Your water has been broken for 6-12 hours without any contractions as risk for infection increases. If you’re having your first baby, labour takes 14-20+ hours of contractions

  • You are Group B strep positive or do not know your status

For most birthing parents, waiting to go to the hospital until you are in active labour is preferred unless any of the situations above apply. If you are managing your contractions well at home, continue to do so unless you have been advised otherwise by your care provider. When in doubt, trust your instincts. You or your partner can contact your midwife or the nurses or doctors in triage at the hospital where you plan on giving birth, and they can advise you best on when to come in.

Koble sessions:

The first phase of labour by Aidan Black-Allen

The second and third phases of labour by Aidan Black-Allen

Other resources:


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