How long is labour and birth?

How long is labour and birth?

Wondering how long the labour and birth process is? Our expert Lauren from One Mama Midwife is here to answer all your burning questions on the topic!

The first stage of labour is the longest. Part of labour and can last anywhere from hours to days and sometimes even weeks. The first stage of labour is broken up into 3 stages within itself - Early labour, Active labour and Transition.

Early labour - early labour is the longest part of the first stage of labour. It can last several hours or days and it is during this stage that your body is doing all the preparation for active labour and birth. When your contractions begin, they may be mild and irregular as they start to prepare the uterus, cervix and baby for
the active phase of labour.

Active labour - active labour starts when the cervix is approximately 4-6cm dilated and this stage becomes slightly more predictable. The active stage of labour should not last more than 12 hours in a first labour and no more than 10 hours for a
subsequent labour. During this stage the contractions are stronger, more
regular and dilation usually begins to accelerate.

Transition - transition is the last phase of the first stage of labour. It usually only lasts 30- 60 minutes in mother's having their first baby. This occurs when a mother is between 8-10cm dilated and is characterised by the mother feeling an
overwhelming loss of control and the contractions are usually at their most

The second stage of labour occurs when a woman is 10cm (fully) dilated and begins pushing her baby out. For a first-time mother, the pushing stage of labour can take up to 2 hours and for a subsequent birth this stage can take up to 1 hour, but is often much faster than this.

The third stage of labour is the delivery of the placenta. There are two ways that the placenta can be delivered-physiological management and active management.

Physiological management involves waiting up to 1 hour for the placenta to naturally detatch from the wall of the uterus and then the mother is then able to push the placenta out.

Active management involves being given an injection of the synthetic form of your hormone oxytocin (this is called syntocinon) as your baby is being born. This expedites the placenta being detatched from the wall of the uterusand your midwife is then able to pull the placenta out. 

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