Early labor

After the membranes rupture and the water breaks, a woman may begin to experience the first phase of labor (early labor). The average time of early labor is extremely variable, lasting anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. In rare cases, it can last up to 24 hours. During this time, the pressure of repeated regular contractions causes the cervix, which had been closed when labor began, to open up to a diameter of 4 centimeters while becoming much thinner. Various techniques can be used to help alleviate the discomfort a woman may experience during the first phase of labor such as back-rubs and breathing exercises.

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 09/16/2008
  • Dan Sacks MD, FACOG, Obstetrics & Gynecology in Private Practice, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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This page was last updated: July 1, 2013

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