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Labour & birth

Giving birth is a natural process – most babies are born without medical interventions. Although it may be hard, trust yourself to labour. 

Getting ready

Planning ahead will help you when your labour starts. Talk to your midwife or doctor about your plans for early labour and when they want you to contact them.

It's best to call your doctor or midwife if you suspect you are in the early stages of labour. You can tell you're in this stage when you are:

  • Having contractions that are regular and uncomfortable, usually 3-5 minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds

  • Leaking or your water breaks.

  • Having vaginal bleeding, or show (pink tinged vaginal mucus).

KEY: If your baby stops moving or moves less than usual, you're unsure or have concerns or if you've been advised to call for other reasons, call your health care provider immediately.

Planning where to give birth

A key part of planning for your baby is deciding where you want to give birth. In British Columbia, women and their partners can choose to have their baby in a hospital or at home. For information on deciding where to give birth, talk to your health care provider.

Use this checklist to pack your bag for the hospital or prepare yourself for a home birth (check with your midwife).


  • How you will get to the hospital

  • Who will take care of your children or pets when you are away

Preterm labour

Preterm labour is when you have regular contractions and you are 20 to 37 weeks pregnant. Regular contractions are 4 or more in 20 minutes or about 8 or more in 1 hour. You may also be having preterm labour if you have:

  • Leaking or gushing of fluid from your vagina

  • Pain that feels like menstrual cramps

  • A feeling of pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, back ache, or are generally not feeling well

If you think you may be in labour, contact your health care provider. Then, go to the hospital to be checked. This can make a big difference to your baby's health.

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