The first thing to do is try to stay calm. The stories you hear about babies arriving on the way to the hospital or in the bathroom are the exception, not the rule. You probably have plenty of time.
- Call your husband to let him know.
- Write down how much time there is between your contractions and how long each one lasts. If you have a smartphone you can use the timer function.
- If you're having a home birth let your midwife know you think labour has started.
- If you have other children and have arranged a babysitter, let your babysitter know.
- Check you have everything you need. If you’re going to hospital make sure you have your bag prepared for the hospital.
- Try to relax!
When should I ring the hospital or midwife?
You can call your midwife or hospital straight away if you think you’re in labour. You’ll probably be offered an early assessment on the phone.
Your midwife will:
- ask how you feel (any tightenings, bleeding or if your water has broken).
- ask you about your birth plans, hopes and any concerns.
- ask about your baby’s movements and especially about any changes in this.
- explain what you can expect in the early stage of labour, including things you can try to help with pain.
- offer you support and pain relief, if needed.
- tell you who to contact next and when.
- give advice and support to your husband.
Your midwife may believe you’re in the latent phase of labour If this is the case, you’ll probably be recommended to stay at home where you can stay as comfortable as possible. You're more likely to have a smoother labour and fewer interventions if you stay at home until labour is stronger and your contractions are regular.
Established labour is when your cervix has dilated to more than 4cm. At this point, you’ll start having stronger, longer and more regular contractions. Contact your midwife, maternity unit or labour ward again when:
- your contractions are regular and coming about 3 in every 10 minutes – you could use your phone to time them and there are lots of apps available that may help you keep track.
- Your water breaks.
- your contractions are very strong, and you feel you need pain relief – if you are in severe pain during the latent stage you can ask for an epidural.
- you're worried about anything.
Your midwife, maternity unit or labour ward will advise you when to come into the hospital.
Who will be with me during labour?
If you're having your baby at home, your midwife will be with you all the time
Once you’re in established labour, you should have one-to-one care from your midwife. There may be a student midwife working with your midwife.
If you are having a baby in a hospital there would be a team of doctors or staff with you.
Author: Dr. Iram Gill
Dr. Iram Gill is an MBBS doctor by profession and a Content Writer by passion. She is a mother as well and has observed the health-related challenges faced by mothers and babies. She wants to play her part in increasing access and support for breastfeeding and maternal health problems.