couple in childbirth classI’m a first-time mom. How long should I expect labor and delivery to last?

If pregnancy is a marathon, labor and delivery is that last fifth of a mile – you’re in the home stretch and you can see the finish line!But those last few moments of pregnancy can feel like forever, and unfortunately, for first-time moms, labor and delivery tends to take a little longer, ranging from several hours to several days.Inducing labor and delivery for first-time moms often draws out the process even more, although for subsequent pregnancies, this risk goes away. You’re also more likely to experience what is called “prodromal labor” where you’re having regular contractions, but nothing else seems to be happening. Some doctors call this “failure to progress.” If you have prodromal labor, you might be at home or you might be in the hospital already, but it’s important to follow your doctor’s advice to walk, stay hydrated, and do whatever she recommends to get labor and delivery back on track.

Epidural pain relief can also stall the labor and delivery process by slowing contractions and making them harder to feel. But don’t get freaked out just yet – the National Institutes of Health found that epidurals only increase labor by about 25 minutes, and they aren’t associated with a higher risk of C-section. So if you’re in pain, go ahead and ask for one!

Once you’re at the pushing stage, everything will (hopefully) seem to go by pretty quickly, but in the early stages of labor and delivery, make sure to follow your doctor’s advice for activities that will keep things moving along.

Answered by Dr. James Alexander