Advice - When should I go to Hospital?
The question many people want to know the answer to

When should I go to Hospital?


Email Newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter for a weekly round-up of all things birth. Subscribers receive a 10% discount when they purchase the Online Childbirth Education Program.



The question many people want to know the answer to

As long as you feel comfortable at home, stay there. When you feel you would like a check-up (most hospitals recommend when the contractions are a certain time apart, or when your waters break), go into the hospital. This is usually when your contractions are 3-4 minutes apart, lasting for a minute. Don't be disheartened if you are sent home – the early phase of labour for your first baby can take a few days. The hospital will only admit you when you are considered to be in 'active labour'.  — Jan Ireland, Midwife

As birth educators and doulas we find that, 'when to go to hospital' is one of the biggest concerns for first-time expectant couples.

They worry about staying home too long and see labour as something that happens very quickly "Hollywood style": a woman's waters break, she is instantly in labour and there is a big rush to get to the hospital. If only it were so quick!!  

The reality is that first babies take time. Pre-labour can last for days, so staying at home in an environment that is familiar and comforting allows gives you the time needed to progress. As labour progresses the contractions become closer together, lasting up to a minute and increasing in intensity.

Going in 'too early' may get sent home or if you stay it may increase your chances of having unnecessary interventions. Hospitals must adhere to certain guidelines regarding labour, and if yours is not progressing within those guidelines they will intervene with breaking of the waters or a syntocin drip.

The 1 - 3 - 1 Rule

The general rule for a first-time baby is 1 - 3 - 1, this stands for:

Contractions lasting for 1 minute, 3 minutes apart and have been happening for 1 hour.

We always encourage couples to call their care providers and check in whenever they feel the need and if at any point you feel concerned, then please go to the hospital. It is much better for you to be sent home early with peace of mind, than labour at home worrying that something may be wrong.

An independent midwife or doula can also help with this big question, as having the extra support at home can be a great guide as to when to go to the hospital.

Ready to create your best birth?

Join Australia's leading online childbirth education program.

Sign up today

©2024 About Birth Pty Ltd |