You are full term, 40 weeks gestation and in active labor (more than 4 cm cervical dilation, cervix is soft and thinning (effacement) and the baby’s head is low in the pelvis. Less than 5 cm usually means you are still in the “latent” or early stage of labor and this can take 1-2 days sometimes. However if you are contracting consistently every 2-3 minutes, 60 seconds is the length of time the contraction lasts and this is going on for hours – it is possible there is something not average going on even at this stage (like the head is not dropping or positioned correctly or sometimes the head just isn’t fitting).
Remember every person’s body is different and every labor is different. The GENERAL progression of labor is you move approximately 1cm per hour (if this is not your first labor), but possibly every 2 hours (if this is your first time in active labor) can be within average range as well. A rate slower than 1cm per hour could be effected by which of the following?
- An epidural was placed
- Inadequate contractions
- Advanced maternal age
- History of previous births
- Position of the baby, example Occiput Posterior (OP) (some refer to this as “sunnyside up” or baby’s looking up at the ceiling so the baby’s back is facing the maternal back
- Lack of pain control (not relaxing which causes the baby’s head to fail to descend “drop”)