How Long is Labour?

How Long is Labour?

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The Answer In brief:

So how long is the average labour? During the first stage of labour contractions make your cervix soften and gradually dilate. This is usually the longest stage of labour. Whilst it's tempting to count your labour from the very first twinge, which is why sometimes friend and family will say that their labour lasted three days, the midwife counts 'established labour' from when you're 4cm dilated and having regular contractions.

For a first time mum, from the start of established labour to being fully dilated usually takes, on average 8 - 12 hours. For a second or third pregnancy it can be a lot quicker.

The second stage, the 'pushing phase', for a first time mum lasts on average around 3 hours, but if you have already had a baby it can again be a lot quicker.

Baby is born at the end of this phase 👶

The third and final phase, when you deliver your placenta can take anything up to 1 hour, but you won't even notice because you'll have your beautiful new baby in your arms.

The Answer In detail:

Embarking on the journey of childbirth is a transformative experience, and one of the many questions expectant mothers often have is, "How long will labor last?" In this blog, we'll delve into the intricacies of the stages of labor, shedding light on the average duration and what to expect during each phase.

The First Stage: Softening and Dilating

The first stage of labor is a remarkable and often prolonged process. Contractions work diligently to soften the cervix and gradually widen it. While it may be tempting to start the clock from the very first twinge, healthcare professionals consider "established labor" to begin when the cervix is 4cm dilated, and regular contractions are underway. For first-time moms, the duration of this stage, from the start of established labor to full dilation, averages between 8 to 12 hours. However, for those who have experienced childbirth before, the process tends to be quicker, marking a significant difference.

The Second Stage: Pushing Towards Delivery

The 'pushing phase' is the second stage of labor, and it's a time of focused determination as the mother works to bring her baby into the world. For first-time mothers, this phase typically lasts around 3 hours on average. However, for those who have already welcomed a child, the process tends to be more efficient and, consequently, quicker. The culmination of this stage is the moment when the baby is born, and the joy of holding the newborn in your arms eclipses the intensity of the preceding hours.

The Third Stage: Delivering the Placenta

As the baby takes center stage, the third and final phase involves delivering the placenta. This often-overlooked but crucial stage can take up to an hour. However, the beauty of having your newborn in your arms during this phase tends to make the time pass unnoticed. The focus shifts from the completion of the birthing process to the joyous celebration of new life.

Childbirth is an awe-inspiring journey, and understanding the average duration of each stage can provide expectant mothers with valuable insights. From the gradual progression of the first stage to the focused determination of the pushing phase and the final moments of delivering the placenta, each stage is a testament to the strength and resilience of women. While averages provide a general guideline, it's important to remember that every childbirth experience is unique. As you anticipate the arrival of your little one, embrace the journey, stay connected with your healthcare provider, and cherish the incredible moments that lead to the precious gift of new life.