top of page

The stages of labour explained...

Updated: Apr 16, 2022

How long will I be in labour for?


I think this is one of the most frequently asked questions in a birth room! It is useful to understand there are different stages to the process of labour.





Latent Phase of Labour

The earliest stage where you may experience lower back or abdominal pains that are irregular and short lasting this phase may last anywhere from hours to weeks- you may have your 'show' in this stage- as long as there is no medical reason and you are term then you can stay at home for this stage.


First Stage of Labour

Your cervix has dilated to 4cm and contractions are regular, you experience 3 or 4 every 10 minutes.

You should be seen by a health care professional so you and your baby can be monitored appropriately throughout this stage.

For women having their first baby, the first stage of established labour usually lasts about 8 hours and is rarely longer than 18 hours.

For women who have had a baby before, the first stage of established labour usually lasts about 5 hours and is rarely longer than 12 hours.


Second Stage of Labour

Your cervix is 10cm or 'fully' dilated.

This can be passive (no urges to push) or active (when you are pushing).