When should I go to the hospital or birthing centre?

Essential information to rememberTowards the end of your pregnancy, check with your doctor or midwife at what point you should go to the hospital or birthing centre.

Towards the end of your pregnancy, your doctor or midwife will explain to you the right time to head to the hospital or birthing centre. This will depend on the distance you have to travel, your previous deliveries, your health, and the state of your cervix.

However you should go to your hospital or birthing centre immediately if any of the following situations occurs:

  • For a first delivery, you are having regular contractions every five minutes or less for one hour
  • This is not your first delivery and you are having regular contractions every five minutes or less. If you live more than 30 minutes away, you should head to the hospital or birthing centre when your contractions occur every ten minutes
  • Your water has broken (your membrane has ruptured)
  • You are losing blood
  • You no longer feel your baby move (see Lack of baby movement after 26 weeks).

Information to comfort you and boost your confidenceWhen labour begins or when in doubt, call your midwife or a nurse at the obstetrics department of your hospital.

They will check with you to see if labour has started and answer your questions, give you advice, and tell you when to come to the birthing centre or hospital.

Women often go the hospital or birthing centre because they think they are in active labour , when in fact they are still in early labour (see Early phase or “latent phase” of labour). If this happens, you will be advised to return home and come back later. This allows you to get used to the contractions at home, in a familiar environment.


Labour: Process by which the baby passes from the uterus to the outside world, primarily through contractions of the uterus.