Pregnancy

Just How Long Can You Expect To Be In Labour? Mums Weigh In

A 72 hour first-time labour? Yes, it happens. And it is actually more common than you may have thought. But the good news is that quick labours are also just as common.

So how long can you expect delivery to last? Come and find out the results of our community survey. How do your previous labours compare?

husband supporting wife during labour

When I had my two children, the thing I dreaded the most wasn’t the cankles, the all day vomiting or the inability to sleep on my stomach. It was the anticipation of the birth. Yes, I was worried about how I would handle the pain but I was more stressed about not being in control of what was about to happen. Having no control over your own body can be a terrifying experience, especially if, like me, you always have to be in charge.

The thing about giving birth is that there is no way to determine when it will happen, how long it will take or how you will feel during it.

But it’s always nice to hear how other mothers have fared.

So just how long is the average labour for Aussie mums?

According to the most recent statistics from Better Health Victoria, first time mothers will be in active labour approximately 12 to 14 hours. Second time mothers can expect a seven hour delivery with each additional child’s birth going quicker.

What about real mums?

We asked our Healthy Mummy community to share their delivery experiences for their first and subsequent children. While a few of our mums experienced a first-time labour of up to 72 hours (14 of the mums commented that their first labour was a 24 hour-or-longer ordeal), many mums gave birth quicker than it takes to do a load of washing.

It sounds crazy but eight mums commented that their first time labour only lasted 2.5 hours or less with plenty of other mums experiencing first-time labours of 5 hours of less.

The shortest first-time labour? 30 minutes. The longest first-time labour? 72 hours. What about the average first-time labour among our mums? 16 hours. 

Second, Third and Fourth Babies

Staying in tune with the official statistics in Australia, our mums also found that second and subsequent labours were much quicker (generally speaking). The average second-time labour among our mums was a much more bearable five hours.

For third babies, the average delivery time clocked in around 8.4 hours but this number varied greatly, from 30 minute third-time labours to 60 hour labours.

For fourth babies, the average among our mums was 4.5 hours with the longest labour at 24 hours and the shortest at 52 minutes.

Every labour is different.

what to expect during labour

Of course, our survey is only a small proportion of the approximately 2000,000 women who give birth vaginally each and every year in Australia. Times are based on so much more than whether this is your first, second or subsequent birth (such as whether you need to be induced, whether you require assistance, whether you require an emergency cesarean or whether bub is in a good birthing position).

But it’s always nice to hear the facts and figures from real mums who have been there, done it, and have a beautiful baby to prove it. At the end of the day, no matter how long your labour lasts or how painful you rate it, the end result is a trillion times worth every second of the birthing experience.

jenna
written by:

Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna traded in the cold mountain air for the laid back lifestyle of Australia nine years ago. She is now a mum to one son, one daughter, one dog and one cat, all of whom live with her and her partner in Cairns, QLD. When not writing about the ups and downs of parenting, she is usually outside doing some form of physical activity or indulging in a glass of antioxidant-infused fruit drink. Okay, it's wine.