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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 and speak to a midwife. The midwife will let you know when to come in.

During labour and birth, a few different midwives will probably care for you. If you’re in a midwifery group practice, continuity of midwifery care or midwifery-led care, you’ll probably know the person or people caring for you. There might also be a doctor if you have any complications. The hospital midwives will care for you during your labour and after the birth.

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 can 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. The doctor or 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.

If you and your baby 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 public hospital, you might like to watch our video about mum’s experiences of birth at a public 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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