Q&A: Duration of Labor

Dr. Elizabeth Pryor answers the question, How long does labor last if you're having your first baby?

Question

I'm a first-time mom who is nervous about how long it will take to deliver my baby. Is there any way to gauge how long labor might last?

Answer

Labor is almost always longer with the first baby. The first stage of labor, known as the latent phase, can last up to 20 hours for the first baby. The active stage of labor begins at 4 centimeters. The average dilation rate at that point is about 1.2 centimeters per hour.

Once you become completely dilated, pushing can last up to two hours without an epidural, or three hours with an epidural. This would be a typical labor for a first baby.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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