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How long does labor take?

woman breastfeeding

For some expectant moms, labor might sound a little scary and overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to talk you through the stages of labor so you can feel more prepared when the time comes to bring your baby into the world!

First, it’s crucial to remember that every birth is different. It can last as much as an episode of your favorite TV show or take as long as a full marathon. No two cases are the same! Although it’s impossible to predict how long labor will last, having a general idea of what each stage might feel like can help make the process easier to go through.

So let’s talk about the stages of labor according to Mayo Clinic:

  • 1st stage – Early and active labor: This is the stage where you begin to feel persistent contractions that start becoming more frequent and more intense. These contractions help open your cervix while also making it shorter and thinner. The stage of active labor is the part when the cervix dilates from 6cm to 10cm. Walking, taking a shower or bath massaging, listening to relaxing music and doing breathing exercises can help you get through this stage more comfortably.
  • 2nd stage – The birth: This is the part of labor where you have to push! Trying different positions might help you, like squatting, kneeling, sitting, or even on your hands and knees. Breathing techniques can also become really helpful in this part of the process. This stage of labor might take longer for first time moms and women who’ve had an epidural. At some point you might be asked to push less or stop pushing to give your muscles a chance to relax and stretch. Once the head is delivered, the rest of the body will come out rather fast, and then your baby’s airway will be cleared if it’s necessary, and the umbilical cord will be cut. Your baby will finally be in your arms!
  • 3rd stage – Delivery of the placenta: After your baby is born you will probably feel relieved and excited! Hold your baby in your arms and cherish the moment! You will continue having some mild contractions, which are meant to help push the placenta into the birth canal. You will be asked to push gently one last time to deliver the placenta. Your doctor will check the whole placenta has come out, because every piece has to come out to prevent bleeding and infections. After this your uterus will continue contracting to return to its normal size. You might be given medication and even an abdominal massage to help with this process. If you suffered any tears, the medical team will repair them.

Keep in mind that each stage can last from a few minutes to a couple hours, so try not to get too attached to a timeframe, and instead focus on things like breathing and relaxation exercises that can help you get through the process.

Many factors can change the way the labor and delivery goes, including your level of dilation, your baby’s position, your blood pressure, your baby’s heart rate, etc. Be open and ready to accept whatever comes remember, the most important thing is to keep you and your baby safe and healthy!

If you have any questions or concerns about labor and delivery, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about it. They are experts and have done this a hundred times! Talking to them about your concerns might help you get more clarity and tranquility.

Try to get lots of rest and relaxation so you can be prepared when the day comes. You’ve done an amazing job so far, and all the pain and effort will pay off. Soon you will meet your baby face to face!

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