6 Delivery-Day Jitters

Worry #5: Labor Will Last 36+ Hours

"I had heard that Gwyneth Paltrow was in labor for 70 hours before Apple was born," says Mary Heller, of Kansas City, Missouri. "I imagined being in labor for days."

Early labor, when your cervix begins to dilate and thin out, varies wildly. It can last a few hours or go on for days. But for many women, this stage, which starts with mild contractions, isn't particularly uncomfortable. (I, for one, napped and leafed through magazines.) Active labor, when the cervix dilates to 10 centimeters and contractions are longer and more intense, typically lasts about eight hours. And most doctors won't let you go longer than 24 hours once your water has broken.

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