What to Expect When Getting to the Labour Ward

Posted: 24 March 2022

What to Expect When Getting to the Labour Ward

One of the most intimidating times of labour is getting to the hospital.  The drive can be stressful as you might be experiencing contractions, your nerves will be heightened because ‘it's happening’ and also the stress of transferring from the relative safety of your home to the very clinical environment can be frightening.  Knowing what you might expect once you arrive can help make you feel more confident and as I always say knowledge is power.

Preparation is key, so it’s a great idea when you are close to your estimated due date, it’s a great idea to have your bag packed and your maternity notes ready, at the front door. It’s a good idea to have a small labour bag that you can carry and then a bibber postnatal bag that your partner can carry in when needed.  Also, do a practice drive to the hospital to pick out the best route. It means on the day, it's less stressful.  One of the best ways to prepare for labour is to do a good antenatal class and that will give you more information about when the best time to go to the hospital is.

Labour Ward

If you have any bleeding, feel unwell, have visual disturbance or are worried about the baby's movements, then head straight in to be assessed.  If you think you are in labour and if you think the time is right, phone the hospital first (not just drive straight in). This has two benefits; the midwife can triage you and advise if it’s the right time for you to come in and secondly they can be ready for you when you do come in.

When arrive, whether day or night you will be instructed by staff to go and give your details.  If you aren’t able or if things are happening fast. Your partner can do this for you. Then you will be seen in the assessment unit of the maternity ward.  Here a midwife will greet you, your vitals will be checked, your history is taken.  They will listen in to baby and feel your tummy to see what position the baby is in.  They will offer you a vaginal examination to see if your cervix is opening, and if so by how much. If you are 3cm or more, you will then be taken to the labour ward.  If you are not as far along, you will be offered to be re-examined in a few hours or if all is well return home and come back later.  The secret is if you are comfortable doing so and all is well, to remain at home for as long as possible. We know from research that women labour better when they are relaxed and comfortable, which tends to be at home, and the less time you are in hospital, the less likely interventions are. . Obviously this is only if you are happy to do so, if you are concerned or worried about anything then contact your healthcare provider and they will advise you accordingly.  
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