Early Signs of Labor & When to Go to Hospital
Getting the timing right
Everybody’s labour is different so there’s no hard and fast rule about when to go to the hospital. Generally, it’s best to call your doctor or the hospital first so they can assess whether they think it’s time for you to go in.
- If this is your first baby, you should call when your contractions are 5 minutes apart and lasting around 30 or 40 seconds. They’ll probably tell you to make your way to the hospital very soon.
- For second, third or later babies, you should call when your contractions are roughly 7 minutes apart. If you’ve had a long labour before, your doctor might tell you to wait until they’re closer together. But if you’ve had any problems during labour in the past, or needed a caesarean, your doctor might advise you to call her before you’ve got to the seven minute stage
What your doctor will want to know
The reason to call before going to the hospital is so that your doctor can listen to your breathing and your voice while you’re having a contraction. She’ll be able to get an idea of the strength of your contractions and how you’re coping by the changes in your voice.
- She’ll ask you how you’re doing and when you last felt your baby move.
- How long the contractions have been happening, how far apart they are and how long they last.
- If your water has broken or you have any vaginal discharge or bleeding.
- She’ll then advise you whether or not to go in or wait a bit longer.
Signs that you should call your doctor or hospital straight away
If any of the following happens, you should get in touch with your doctor or hospital. If you aren’t able to call, head straight there so that they can make sure everything is ok and give you the attention you need. Don’t be afraid to call for an ambulance if you’re on your own and unable to get to the hospital yourself.
- If you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant and are feeling contractions
- If you haven’t felt your baby move for around 8 – 10 hours or there have been less than 10 movements in any 24 hour period.
- If your contractions are too strong for you to cope with.
Could it be a false alarm?
Before you’ve experienced the real thing, the practice labour pains ofBraxton Hicks can make you think your baby’s almost ready to make their big entrance.
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