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Usually, it’s time to go to the birth centre when one or more of the following things happen:

  • Your contractions are about five minutes apart.
  • You don’t feel comfortable being at home.
  • Your waters break.
  • You have vaginal bleeding.

If you think you’re in labour, phone your birth centre and speak to a midwife. The midwife will let you know when to come in.

During labour and birth, midwives you know will probably care for you. They’ll call a doctor if you need extra medical care.

Birth centres don’t usually restrict the number of support people that you can have in the birthing suite. But it’s still a good idea to find out what your birth centre recommends before you go into labour.

Straight after the birth, if all has gone well, you can have skin-to-skin contact with your baby and breastfeed your baby. The midwife will check that you and your baby are both well. The midwife will also give your baby an Apgar score, cut the umbilical cord, weigh baby and give baby vitamin K and hepatitis B injections (with your permission).

If you or your baby needs a longer stay in hospital, you’ll be transferred to the postnatal ward 1-2 hours after the birth. You’ll usually go home within 24 hours of birth or sooner. Your baby might have newborn screening tests at home or at the hospital. You can read more about what to expect in the first 48 hours after birth.

If you’re thinking about, or planning to give birth in a birth centre, you might like to watch our video about mum’s experiences of birth at a birth centre.

Dads can find out more about getting ready for their birth support role and their first few hours as a dad in the Dads Guide to Pregnancy.

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