When Should I Go to the Hospital for Labor? How to Know When It’s Time

When should I go to the hospital for labor?” Whether you’re giving birth for the first time or tenth time, or you’re carrying twins or multiple babies, it’s imperative to know when it’s time to check into the hospital. 

“Since everyone’s experiences are different, there’s no specific time for going to the hospital. In most cases, it’s best to give the hospital or your midwife a call so they can determine whether you should go in. Your midwife may tell you it’s time to check-in or you may be told to come when your contractions are nearer together. Either way, your midwife will tell you what to do based on your specific situation.

Real Labor vs. False Labor

You could have false labor (also known as Braxton Hicks contractions) especially when your due date approaches. Braxton Hicks contractions are essential warm-ups for delivery when your uterus contracts and expands but it doesn’t mean it’s time.

The difference between real and false labor is that the latter can fool you into thinking it’s true when you’re actually not. When it comes to Braxton Hicks contractions, typical symptoms are the following:

  • They aren’t painful
  • There’s no pattern
  • They last no longer than one hour
  • They go away if you move about

When to Go to the Hospital

pregnant woman holding her belly

During the final trimester, your body begins to ready itself for birth. If you’re having a C-Section, you just have to follow the schedule you agreed on to deliver your baby. But if you’re aiming for normal childbirth, you’ll have to watch out for the following:

You’re Experiencing Contractions

When contractions begin as mild and occasional cramps that slowly develop into more regular and painful occurrences, that’s when real labor has started. When contractions are so painful that you can’t do anything else, they’re more than likely to be real contractions.

Your Water Broke

If you think your water broke, let your doctor know right away. They may tell you to come to the hospital to verify that your amniotic fluid has actually ruptured. Or they might recommend that you remain at home for some time if you aren’t having any contractions yet. If you can’t get hold of your doctor, it’s best to pop into the hospital for evaluation.

You Have a High-Risk Pregnancy

Contact your midwife or doctor right away as soon as your water broke if you’re carrying twins or multiple babies, or suffer from other high-risk medical conditions. In these special cases, it’s not recommended to wait for contractions to start. You’ll need to get to the hospital as soon as possible. 

You’re Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding can indicate complications at any stage of pregnancy. Always inform your doctor if you’re bleeding. They can recommend what to do depending on how severe the bleeding is, how far gone you are, and other symptoms you could be having.

You Have Pre-eclampsia Symptoms

Contact your midwife or doctor immediately, or go straight to the ER if you suffer any of these:

  • Headaches, dizziness, or seizures
  • Blurred vision
  • Swelling of face and hands
  • Sudden weight gain (over 4 pounds in one week)
  • Severe abdominal or stomach pain or vomiting

Final thoughts

Your due date may be near, but it may not be time to go to the hospital just yet. So if you’re experiencing something unusual and you know that your baby’s due anytime, these signs can help you avoid checking in too soon (and getting sent back) or not arriving soon enough (and you don’t want that).

Thoughts? Advice? Share it on our comment section below, soon-to-be moms would love to know more!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I am in labor?
When contractions are so painful and come more frequently by the minute, they’re more than likely to be real labor contractions.

How soon should you go to the hospital after your water breaks?
Most of the time, you’ll still have a few hours to spare before labor starts. The first thing you should do is contact your midwife/doctor and then take it from there. Try not to panic. If you do, make sure somebody’s recording it. 😁

How can I dilate faster?
Keep moving! The most simple and recommended way is to walk around. Don’t make the mistake of trying any other methods that’s not medically approved. You’ve waited for months, what’s a few more hours?