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Usually, it’s time to go to hospital 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 hospital. If you have a private obstetrician, hospital staff will usually call your obstetrician and let you know when to come in.

Hospital midwives will look after you during labour, and they’ll stay in close phone contact with your obstetrician. Unless you’ve hired a doula or private midwife, you’ll most likely be cared for by a few different midwives during your labour and birth.

Your obstetrician will usually see you during your labour and will come for the birth. If your obstetrician isn’t available, another obstetrician from the practice will come instead. If you’re having a caesarean, your obstetrician will normally do the surgery.

Usually, you can have at least two support people with you in the birthing suite. Some hospitals find that the rooms aren’t big enough to comfortably fit more than two support people. Find out what your hospital recommends before you go into labour. If you have a caesarean, usually only one support person is able to be in the operating theatre with you. If you need a general anaesthetic, support people are often not allowed into the theatre once you’re asleep.

Straight after the birth, if all has gone well, you can have skin-to-skin contact with your baby and breastfeed your baby. Your obstetrician and midwife will check that you and your baby are both well.

They’ll 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).

You’ll most likely be transferred to the postnatal ward 1-2 hours after the birth. 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 private hospital, you might like to watch our video about mum’s experiences of birth at a private hospital.

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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