By: Midwives from Cork University Maternity Hospital

 If it’s your first pregnancy, you may feel unsure about when you should go into hospital, so telephone your maternity hospital for advice.

If your waters have released (broken), we will tell you to come in to be checked. If it is your first baby and you are having contractions but your waters have not released (broken), we may ask you to wait at home until your contractions are:

  • regular,
  • strong,
  • about five minutes apart, and
  • lasting about 45-60 seconds.

If you don’t live near the hospital, you may need to come in before you get to this stage. Make sure you know the signs of labour and what happens.

Second babies often arrive more quickly than the first, so you may need to contact the hospital, sooner. Telephone the hospital before leaving home, and remember to bring your notes.

If you are happy to stay at home, stay as active as possible when your labour starts. You can do a lot at home before you decide to go in to hospital:


  • Have a bath or a shower.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Have a snack, as this will keep your energy levels up during labour
  • Practice the breath awareness that you learned at our preparation for birth and parenthood education programme.


Time your contractions so that you know when they are strong and that you need to go into the hospital.



This article was written for the CUMH Booklet ‘Information on Preparing for Birth and Parenthood’ by CUMH Midwives, Margaret Murphy **, Mary Jeffery, Cathy O’Sullivan, Jane O’Connor, Valerie Dennehy, Monica O’ Regan, Olive Long and Rebecca O’Donovan. **Margaret Murphy is a Midwifery Lecturer at UCC


See full booklet at