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How long will labour last?

Created by BabyCenter

For your first baby, labour may take about 8 hours. But it could be much shorter or much longer. It is unlikely to last more than 18 hours. Once your cervix (the opening to your womb) has opened fully, it could take 1 or 2 hours of pushing before your baby is born.

If you have had a baby before, labour will probably be faster this time around. About 5 hours is common. It is unlikely to last more than 12 hours. It may only take you around 10 minutes to push your baby out. Every labour is different, so even if you have done this all before you may be surprised by how fast, or slow, this labour is.

Keep upright and move around in labour for as long as you can, as this may help everything to happen more quickly.

After your baby is born, your body pushes the placenta out. This often takes from 5 to 15 minutes. But it can take up to 1 hour.

Very occasionally, labour can happen really fast. This is more likely if you have had a baby before. It is important to trust your instincts so you know what your body is telling you, then you can get help in time. Some babies just cannot wait!

10 February 2015