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Labor and Birth

How long can you be in labor for?

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November 28, 2008 3:53AM

Anywhere from minutes to days. It depends on the woman, the baby and the circumstances (is the baby caught in the cord etc). Your average first time mom will be in active labor for about 14 hours; that is from the time your contractions are 5 min apart to when you reach the point you are ready to push. Now that doesn't include your Braxton Hicks contractions. Those are the small, slightly uncomfortable contractions you have leading up to active labor and can last days or sometimes even two or more weeks. Braxton Hicks can are uncomfortable, but more like period cramps, and you can still move around and function with them. Braxton Hicks don't mean you are in labor, but it is an indicator that you are getting close to the big show. A note on labor: there is a reason labor lasts as long as it does for first or second time moms. Your body is new at this, and it is taking it's own time to adjust and adapt to the situation. While a really short labor sounds great, it can lead to more post-delivery complications (tearing) than a standard 12-14 hour labor. In the event you have a really long labor (18 hrs +) there are always options the doctor can take if you or the baby are in physical distress. The most important thing is to go with what your body is trying to do, and don't worry about the amount of time it takes. It's not a race!