We’ve discussed early labour, and now, you’re probably wondering what comes next. Or you’re wondering how you’ll know when you’re in active labour and what you need to do once you enter that stage. Here’s a guide for what you can expect and how to handle this phase of labour.
What exactly is active labour?
Active labour is when your cervix has dilated to 4-7cm and your contractions are between 45 and 60 seconds, occurring 3 to five minutes apart and this has been a consistent pattern for at least an hour. Contractions are much stronger during active labour than they were during early labour.
How do I know I’m in active labour?
If your contractions are 5-1-1 it means that your contractions are at least five minutes apart, each lasting for a minute, and it has been consistent for at least an hour straight. That’s how you know you’re in for the final stretch. This is when you need to get your butt over to the hospital. This is the minimum requirement from the doctors, anything more than that and you’re just asking for some kind of medical intervention.
What does active labour feel like?
During early labour, you’ll still be able to walk and talk through your contractions, which feel like slowly-building cramps. This stage is when you realize there’s a pattern to your contractions and instead of going away, they just become more intense as time passes. During this time you also won’t be able to walk and talk through your contractions.
How long does it last?
The reality is that nobody knows how long it lasts. The average labour time is between 6 and 8 hours, but this excludes early labour, transition, and pushing. Some women get the show over and done within as little as 30 minutes and some spend more than 10 hours in active labour. The time you spend in this phase will be considerably shorter if it’s your second, third, or fourth pregnancy. Subsequent labours and births can be half the time, except if you’ve decided to get an epidural, in which case things can be much slower.