You’d be forgiven for thinking I was lying if I was to tell you that you won’t experience any pain at all for the majority of your labour….77% of your labour in fact. Well I’m not lying and its a stat that literally lights up my client’s eyes and certainly put everything into perspective during the birth of my son.

This mathematical masterpiece comes courtesy of Milli Hill, author of The Positive Birth Book, an absolute must read for anyone preparing to give birth.

As Milli explains, the average surge lasts for one minute and the first stage of labour, when our cervix is dilating, lasts on average, eight hours.

During your first hour, you may experience three surges. That’s three minutes.

Things may increase during the second hour and you may experience a surge every 10 minutes. That’s six minutes.

During the third hour, your surges may increase to five minutes apart. That’s 12 minutes.

Throughout the final five hours you’re likely to experience the ultimate, ‘3 in 10’, three surges, every ten minutes which equates to 18 surges in an hour. That’s 90 minutes over the five hour period.

So we have a total of 111 minutes of an eight hour labour where you are experiencing any kind of pain or sensation. The other 369 minutes (77%) is completely and utterly pain free.

Milli also reminds us that in fact its only really the 20 seconds at the peak of the surge that is the actual painful bit. The first 20 seconds of the surge is the build up and the last 20 seconds is the come down. So out of 480 minutes of labour we’re now looking at just 37 minutes of discomfort. Pretty impressive huh? 

Louisa McDonald