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How Long Will Labour Last?

How long labour lasts, and how demanding it can be, varies among different women, and also in an individual woman from birth to birth.

The length of labour is dependent on several factors, largely on whether this is your first or subsequent baby. Generally, however, the duration of a first labour is 12-14 hours, with subsequent labours tending to be shorter, at seven hours or so. Some women may be in labour for 24 hours or more, while others can deliver in only a couple of hours; both these situations however are unusual.

Labour is divided into three distinct stages, with each stage lasting a certain time. Your midwife will be with you the whole time towards the end of the first stage of labour, and in the final two stages, and will guide you through until your baby is born. If you have your own obstetrician, or one is needed because of problems, he/she will normally visit you during the first stage (especially if there are problems), and then be there for the second stage and the birth.

Your partner can also be a great help throughout your labour by giving you physical and moral support. Not only can he comfort and massage you, help you with your breathing and relaxation exercises during labour and encourage you to push when you need to, but he’ll also be there to interact with hospital staff on your behalf if you’re busy concentrating on your labour.

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