When to Go to the Hospital
Most physicians and midwives suggest contacting them when your contractions are five minutes apart and lasting 60 seconds and you have had this activity for about an hour.
When you reach your doctor or midwife, be prepared to tell him/her:
- How far apart the contractions are, their length and intensity, and if you are using breathing techniques
- Whether or not the bag of waters has broken, the time it broke, and the color of the fluid
- If a bloody show is present.
What to Expect when you arrive at the Hospital
When you arrive in labor and delivery, a nurse will check your blood pressure, temperature, may obtain both blood and urine samples, and place devices on your abdomen that monitor the baby's heart rate and your contractions. The nurse, your on-call physician, or midwife will then perform a vaginal exam to evaluate the dilation and effacement of your cervix. If you are a first-time mother, refer to Special Tips for First-Time Mothers.
Depending on your stage of labor, contraction pattern, how far dilated you are and fetal heart tracing, your physician or midwife may admit you to the hospital, or suggest returning home until the contractions are closer together. In active labor, the contractions are less than 5 minutes apart, lasting 45-60 seconds and the cervix is dilated three centimeters or more. In the event you are in early labor and sent home, it is common to feel disappointed, maybe even embarrassed. Activities such as walking, showering, resting, drinking fluids, renting a video, or listening to music, can be very helpful in early labor.
If you are admitted and have had a positive culture for Group B Beta Strep during your pregnancy, or have any risk factors, you will receive antibiotics prior to delivery.