The different stages of labour, different kinds of pain relief, and forms of delivery... it's all here!

Stages of Labour

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There are 3 Stages of Labour.

The First stage is from the start of labour until the cervix (neck of the womb) is fully open or fully dilated.  The length of the First Stage can vary very greatly, but for the average first time labour, this will consist of 10-14 hours of strong, regular, frequent and usually painful, contractions.

For subsequent labours this is usually much quicker and on average will last 6-8 hours.  This stage includes both Latent Labour and Active Labour.  These will be explained below.

The Second Stage is defined as being from the cervix being fully open until the delivery of the baby. Again this can vary greatly but in first time mothers this would last anywhere between half an hour to 2 hours.

In subsequent deliveries this is unlikely to be more than one hour and in some cases can be considerably quicker.

The Third Stage is from the delivery of the baby until delivery of the placenta and this will usually last less than 20 minutes.

Essential Information

  • It is Important that you know about the Signs of Labour so you know when labour is starting.
  • Latent Labour can be very confusing as even though you re having contractions you may not officially “be in labour”!
  • Active Labour is when your cervix is more than 3cm dilated and you are considered to be in proper labour!
  • Make sure you read all our information about Breathing and why this is so important during labour.
  • And as for Pushing, we will tell you everything you need to know!

there's more to explore...

Want to know what to expect week by week in pregnancy? Got some burning questions for what you can and can’t do with a bun in the oven? Want to find out what might happen during your labour… it’s all in our free guides! 

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