When you are in labour
Information on the signs of labour, what to expect during childbirth, and common complications such as premature births and overdue pregnancies.
The amount of time it takes to give birth will be different for each pregnancy.
It may hard to tell if labour has started. If you’re unsure, contact your doctor or midwife.
Learn more about the signs of labour and what to expect during the birth at Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.
When labour does not go to plan
Not all births go as planned. Complications during labour can include:
- slow progress of labour
- premature labour
- if the baby’s in an unusual position
- concern about the baby’s condition.
Did you know?
You may be able to put your unpaid parental leave on hold if your child is in hospital due to premature birth or birth-related complications. Find out more at the Fair Work Ombudsman.
If your baby is premature
Contact your doctor or hospital if you’re showing signs of labour before 37 weeks
A term pregnancy is one that lasts between 37 and 42 weeks. Babies born before 37 weeks are considered premature or pre-term.
Premature babies may not be fully developed and can need help breathing, feeding and keeping warm.
If your baby is likely to be delivered early, you may be admitted or transferred to a hospital that has special facilities for premature babies known as a neonatal unit.
Common reasons that babies are born prematurely include when you:
- are having more than one baby
- have a medical condition such as pre-eclampsia or diabetes
- have a history of premature birth.
If your baby is overdue
Pregnancy usually lasts 40 weeks. Most women will go into labour within a week before or after this date.
If your labour doesn't start naturally, your midwife or doctor may suggest inducing labour.
You can learn more at NSW Health about pregnancy beyond 41 weeks. It's available in English and 11 other languages.
Find out more about complications during labour at Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.