Your labour and birth

View of a birthing room at the Cheltenham Birth Centre

Going into labour is exciting but it can also be nerve-racking, so it makes sense to be prepared well in advance. It is important for you to know the signs of labour and to be prepared. Knowing all about the stages of labour and what to expect will also help put your mind at rest.

Read more about the signs and stages of labour

When do I come into hospital?

If it's your first pregnancy, you may feel unsure about when you should go into hospital or a midwife-led unit. The best thing to do is to call your delivery unit or birth centre for advice. Telephone numbers available here.

  • If your waters have broken, you'll probably be told to go in to be checked.
  • If it is your first baby and you are having contractions but your waters have not broken, you may be told to wait.
  • You will probably be told to come in when your contractions are regular, strong, about five minutes apart and lasting about 60 seconds. If you don't live near your hospital you may need to come in before you get to this stage.
  • Second babies (and third, fourth and so on) often arrive more quickly than the first, so you may need to contact the hospital, midwife-led unit or your midwife sooner.

Don’t forget to phone the hospital or unit before leaving home and remember your notes.

If you are planning a home delivery, follow the procedure you have agreed with your midwife during your discussions about the onset of labour.

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