Labor & Delivery: Labor & Delivery Timeline

If you are a first time mom, you are probably wondering what to expect on delivery day. Get an understanding of what the typical progression is like with this timeline.


Average first labor takes anywhere from 12 to 20 hours. There's an early phase of labor and there's an active phase of labor. So the early phase of labor is usually when you're contractions are really irregular. They can be 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 8 minutes apart, they're not really timeable. And usually that means that you're under 4 centimeters dilated. When your contractions get really, really regular, we usually tell the patients to call us when they're about 5 minutes apart for at least an hour. And this usually means that you're entering that active phase of labor. The contractions will usually get stronger, they'll get more intense, and that's when we really advise you to make your way into the hospital. Once you get to the hospital, we'll check and see how dilated you are. You will be hooked up to a fetal heart rate monitor to make sure the baby is doing well, and at that time usually it is an option to have pain relief if you do want it. Once you're in the active phase of labor if you're like 4 or 5 centimeters dilated, it probably takes about a centimeter an hour. So we wait until you are fully dilated which is usually around 10 centimeters, and then once you get to 10 centimeters that's when we start pushing. And pushing really varies from person to person, sometimes it takes half an hour, sometimes it could take up to 3 hours. So save all your energy for the end.

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