When to Go to the Hospital for Childbirth

Giving birth is a natural process and your body will start to prepare itself weeks before your labor begins. We'll help you learn when it's time to go to the hospital to deliver your baby.

How to Know When You're in Labor


During early labor, you may feel mild, irregular contractions. It's helpful during this stage to stay home where you're comfortable.

When you have regular, painful contractions lasting one minute each and occurring at least every five minutes for more than two hours, it's time to go to the hospital. This is the transition from early to active labor.

Water Breaks

If your water breaks, whether you're experiencing contractions or not, go to the hospital. This will help reduce the risk of infection. Note the color, odor and amount of fluid when your water broke.

When to Call Your Doctor or Midwife

Vaginal Bleeding

If you experience vaginal bleeding that is more than spotting, contact your doctor or midwife.

Decreased Fetal Movement

If you notice your baby's movements have decreased significantly, contact your doctor or midwife, or come to the hospital immediately. This may be a sign that your baby needs an evaluation.

What to Expect When You Arrive

When you arrive, we will evaluate you and your baby to check for labor progression.

  • If you're less than 4 cm dilated: You might be sent home because your labor isn't active enough for hospital admission.
  • If you're more than 4 cm dilated: You'll be admitted to the hospital to continue your labor and delivery.

Scheduled Deliveries

You should arrive at the hospital two hours before your scheduled C-section or induction to allow time for admission and preparation for your procedure.