what to expect during labor for first-time moms
Labor Pregnancy

What To Expect During Labor For First-Time Moms

Is your due date getting closer? If you are nervous about childbirth, you are definitely not the only one. You should know that preparation can ease that anxiety and make the entire process less frightening. Here is what to expect during labor for first-time moms.


When should I go to the hospital?

Many first-time moms go to the hospital at the wrong time and are unfortunately sent back home for actual labor. You can have false labor which is very similar to actual labor, and this will cause a lot of confusion. If you can’t tell if the contractions are actual labor, click here and read my blog post “Are You In Labor?”.


How long is labor for first-time moms?

There are three stages of labor.

The first stage can take 12-19 hours. It includes feeling regular, painful, and strong contractions which cause your cervix to dilate to 10 cm.

The second stage can take 20 minutes to a couple of hours. This includes pushing the baby out of the vaginal canal.

The third stage takes less than 20 minutes. It includes the birth of the placenta.


What to expect during each stage of labor, and how will I feel during each one?

The first stage consists of three parts – early labor, active labor, and transition. During the early stage, you will feel mild contractions. You can spend this time at home. During active labor, contractions will get closer, stronger, longer, and more painful. You may vomit and your water may break. You will feel the urge to push and your legs may cramp. The transition stage will be the most painful but will only last up to an hour. You will feel the urge to push.

During the second stage of labor, contractions will slow down helping you push the baby out. The baby’s head will crown. You will feel a burning and painful sensation. You may get an episiotomy which is an incision to help the baby get out.

During the third stage of labor, you will have closer but less painful contractions that would push the placenta out. Your doctor may place pressure on your abdomen to help push it out and feel your uterus. If you got any tears or an episiotomy, it will be repaired now.

***If you get an epidural, you may not feel any of this. However, some women still feel some pain even with the epidural.


What to expect after you give birth?

Once you deliver your baby, you will feel much better. You may be a bit shaky and they will wipe down the baby and place him/her on your chest if they don’t expect any health issues. You may do skin-to-skin during this time and begin the breastfeeding process. They will take her/his weight and height. You will have problems going to the bathroom (number two), and they will begin giving you stool softeners and a pain reliever.


Postpartum Body

After giving birth, you will automatically lose from 10-13 pounds, but you would still have some excess water weight. You will start losing that after a week. You may still have a round postpartum belly, and that will go away with time and exercise.


Here is what to expect during labor for first-time moms. If you have more questions, leave a comment.



  1. I’m not anywhere near a pregnancy at the moment but this was still so interesting, I’m the kind of person who wants to be prepared so I always want to know even the worst details

  2. Not currently expecting but this is such a helpful article! I love how well you laid out all the details.

  3. Amber Myers says:

    I remember this. I asked for the epidural ASAP because no way was I going through that without pain meds.

  4. Monica Simpson says:

    It’s important to be prepared but also to be prepared for your “plan” to change. My 2 labors were so different.

  5. Angeline Gormley says:

    This is so true, the earlier stages of labor are much painful. Going back delivery was much easier and the recovery was more difficult for me.

  6. I’m not a mom but I’m sure it’s an amazing experience x

  7. It made me remember my first labor pains and experience when I gave birth to my son with all thr preparations we had months before my expected delivery.

  8. My husband and I were not able to have children but we adopted and I was there for my daughter’s birth and it was amazing to watch!

  9. Super helpful! Wish I read this before I gave birth with my first. I was sent back the very first time I thought I was in labor, I wasnt dilated yet! =\

  10. It is good to get an idea of what labor might be life. So important to be prepared!

  11. I was an oddball. I called the hospital at 3AM after feeling contractions at 2AM. They told me to wait another hour and then come in if they didn’t subside, so we arrived at the hospital around 5AM and I was already 6 CM dilated. My labor was only 6 hours!

  12. Great post. I wish I had read it when I first gave birth. It’s still useful as I am expecting my second now and it was good to refresh some of that important info.

  13. It will definitely help me to prepare for my labor. Thanks

  14. Gervin Khan says:

    Great information to know by all first-timer moms and I wish I was able to read when I was pregnant.

  15. Kimmy says:

    Great read!

  16. I would definitely tell first time moms to prepare for the unexpected. Labor doesn’t always go as planned and that’s okay!

  17. definitely useful for first-time moms.. for me, i had to be induced each time as the little ones stayed longer than they should 🙂 so it was a different experience

  18. I wish I had a list like this when I was pregnant! Great tips and details.

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