How Long (or Short) Was Your Labor?

While we’re on pins and needles waiting for our second baby to finally arrive, I’m curious: How quickly did your babies come, once you were in labor? A friend of a friend told me the freakiest thing the other day…

She was pregnant with her second child. When her water broke, she and her husband got their things together and hopped in their car to drive forty minutes to the hospital. Her contractions increased fast and furiously, and by the time they reached the hospital, she was so far into her labor that THE BABY’S HAND HAD POPPED OUT!!! How insane is that? She said she was totally traumatized—I mean, she had been in the front seat of the car driving wildly through Manhattan! Can you imagine?! What a hero she was.

And another crazy story: Jenny was walking out the door to the hospital to deliver her third child when she realized that the baby was coming immediately—so she turned right around and delivered her while lying on her living-room ottoman!

On that note, my doctor recommended that we get to the hospital as quickly as possible. “You know those scenes in movies, where women are delivering babies in cabs or as soon as they arrive at the hopsital?” she told me. “Those are second babies.” Apparently women’s second babies typically come much more quickly than their first. Your body is just ready to go, I guess.

Toby’s labor lasted 14 hours from the first big contractions to the moment the doctor placed him in my arms. The time flew by, though, since I was in such a zone. I remember feeling like the hands of the clock were spinning around like in a cartoon.

This time around, I’m hoping that we’ll have time to get to the hospital without any troubles. The tricky thing about living in Manhattan: a) we don’t have a car, b) cabs can be hard to find when it’s raining (side note: rainy forecasts every day this week!) and during morning and evening rush hours, and c) even once we’re in the cab, it could take us as long as an hour to get to our hospital since it’s 75 blocks from our apartment with lots of traffic jams and red lights along the way. All this to say: Please wish us luck!

I’m curious to hear: How long was your labor? Very long? Very short? Somewhere in the middle? If you have a second baby, was it faster than your first? Any delivering-in-the-cab stories out there? :)

(Photo by De Vetpan)

  1. um, bit late for this, but why would you go to a hospital 75 blocks from where you live? Don’t they have local hospitals in NYC? Or home births? 2nd labour identical to 1st but way faster and shot out in the lift of the hospital, which is 10 minutes walk (2 minutes drive) from our home in central London. midwives said if there’s a 3rd I have to homebirth. Erm. Yikes. Cross your legs.

  2. Ugh. From water breaking to baby was 37.5 hours with 3 plus hours o pushing. I definitely would welcome a quicker second delivery when the time comes. Please don’t waste any time getting to the hospital!! My neighbor has a horrendous birth story for her 3rd in part because they took their sweet time getting to the hospital. I’ll spare you the details, but seriously, get there!!!! Best wishes!!!

  3. One word: Uber
    Good luck!

  4. I see many are telling my story here, but with my first son labor was very gradual and it took 19 hours. With my second son, there were erratic contractions for maybe an hour, and I thought I would go in to my midwife’s office to be checked. En route the contractions suddenly came one on top of another and my water broke there in the car. We headed to the hospital instead and he was born about 10 minutes after we arrived. It was terribly painful, but it only lasted about 45 minutes total! I was so exuberant, first that he was there and totally perfect, and second that I had gotten off soooo much easier than the first time. Good luck to you!

  5. I’ve had three babies – 4th due in September. My labors have all gotten progressively longer. I live 75 minutes from my hospital (without traffic – 2 hours + with) so I’m hoping #4 isn’t too fast! We’ll see. You’ll be fine!

  6. At 75 blocks the subway doesn’t seem like the WORST idea …

    I was in labor for 33 hours with Baby 1 and got nowhere. Baby #2 was a scheduled C-section, which the internets will shout in horror at but was actually quite lovely – I chatted with the anesthesiologist, healed relatively quickly, etc. and it ended up being a good thing because he had his cord wrapped around his neck.

  7. I have never had a baby – but my sister’s 3rd and 4th child went so fast I couldn’t arrive to the hospital in time to see the delivery! Maybe it’s best that I didn’t….

  8. I was a second baby. I’m not sure how long my mom was in labor. I do know my parents made it to the hospital (30 min. away) and I arrived just as the doctor walked in the room.

  9. With all four of my kiddos I never pushed more than a handful of times.
    Avienda- 5:30pm first contractions – 1:36am Born = 8 hours w/epidural
    Olivia- 2:00pm first contractions – 6pm Born = 4 hours w/epidural
    Paige- 10:00pm water breaks & first contractions – 11:40pm Born = 1 hour 40 minutes NO epidural
    Roan- 1:00am water breaks & first contractions – 3:47 Born = 2 hours 47 minutes w/ epidural

  10. Baby # 2 came sooner than 1 but both were overdue (10 days for 1 & 5 days for 2) so I was induced both times. Our hospital is only a 10 minute drive so I wasn’t too worried either way, but since I was induced both times all the worying was for nothing. I’d been at the hospital for hours & hours before either was born. Good luck!!

  11. I have three kids:
    Madison – 3.5 hours from water broke to delivery
    Tucker – 90 minutes from water broke to delivery
    Miss Boo – 70 minutes from first contraction to delivery!

    all the best for baby#2!!

  12. I don’t have kids, but a coworker of mine actually delivered his second child at home – labor progressed MUCH faster than they were prepared for and they just didn’t have time! They are now one day past their due date for their third and are very quick to head to the hospital – not that I blame them!

  13. Contractions started at 1 am, and were regular but managable. Went to the hospital at 10:30 am, was 5 cm. Water broke at 12:30 pm, pushed starting at 1:30 pm and she was born at 2:07. Much shorter than I had thought for a first baby–I’m nervous that the second one will be even faster!

  14. I shouldn’t have read all these comments! I’m a newlywed, so not thinking of babies yet but super terrified. :(

  15. Em says...

    My second labor was just as long as the first. My big ol’ babies like to take their time. Don’t let it get you too stressed out.

  16. My first labor was 8 hours. My second labor totally surprised me by only being 1 hour. Yikes!! Your body just knows what to do already. Side note, I knew I was in labor the day/evening before but it just wasn’t that painful. I think my tolerance for pain has increased being a mother and being married for 8 years. Pay close attention to your body. Start timing any contractions ASAP. Also, I feel that severe grumpiness, short temper and lack of hunger are very strong indications that labor is in progress.

  17. The second time around, I got my first real contractions around 12:30am and was fully dilated by 4am. Little girl was stubborn (and turned the wrong way), so there was an hour of pushing, and hour of waiting for her to turn, and one more hour of pushing before she decided to grace us with her presence. She was born at 7am.

  18. jo says...

    my first was 12 hours almost exactly. my second was induced and only lasted about 3 and 1/2 hours. my third baby i did naturally (up until the very end) and he came quickly too, only about 4 or 5 hours. good luck! i’m sure everything will go well, but i agree with the other commenter that you might want to stay at a friend’s who lives closer to the hospital! :)

  19. First labor: 24 hours. Second: 8 hours. Be prepared for a quickie! (Which is not to say, necessarily, that it will be easier :) Good luck!

  20. I gave birth in Japan where they want you to deliver naturally. I was placed on Pitocin for 4 days with no budging of the wee one. On day 5 I said, please take her out. Needless to say I was exhausted.

  21. My first was 22 hours, and my second was 3.5. I was in the hospital for less than an hour, and pushed for about 15 minutes. I probably wouldn’t have had to push that long even, I was just so caught off guard, thinking it would be longer, that I wasn’t mentally prepared to push.

  22. First one was 10 hours, pretty textbook. Second one…Barely made it to the hospital and never made it to the delivery room! It was AWESOME!!

  23. My first was 20 hours of labor with 3 brutal hours pushing (still is a stubborn child :); my second was SO FAST. I labored at home for a few hours but kept thinking, “it’s got to get worse than this”, but finally decided we should go to the hospital even though my contractions weren’t five min apart yet. I had my second 32 minutes after arriving at the hospital. No time for any meds! It was INTENSE. When they checked me and said I was at a 9+ I knew what that meant and it was scary! Luckily the pain was over fairly quickly because I distinctly remember thinking I might die. I’m pretty much going to be camping in a tent in the hospital parking lot for #3.

  24. With my first my water broke, I went to the hospital and 8 hours later my baby was born after an hour and a half of pushing. For the second we got to the hospital 45 minutes before he was born (including the 15 minutes of pushing). It was nuts–the nurses were running around like crazy and the doctor arrived about 10 minutes before he was born. We didn’t want to be in the hospital as long as we were with the first, but we probably would have enjoyed a little more time. Even so, the second birth was much better than the first. I wish you well.

  25. First baby, 8 hours. Second baby, 4 hours. And arrived at the hospital the second time already in transition. He was born 45 minutes after we got there.

    Second birth wasn’t any easier, second child-rearing was:).

  26. Don’t wait. I just had my third, I woke up with contractions and 19 minutes later he was born in the back seat of my car delivered by my husband! That being said, everyone is different. Good luck!

  27. Oh my gosh, these stories are so scary!! Good luck!!! So excited for you! :)

  28. First baby: 8 hours. Second baby: 5 hours. Third baby: less than two hours. And we had 45 min to drive to our hospital. But everything went fine. :-) Good luck!

  29. my second labor lasted just as long as my first, about 12 hours.

  30. first, five hours of ‘proper’ contractions and about an hour of pushing. the waters trickled out just as i got in the pool. second, waters exploded at 2.15am, he was born in my trousers in the hospital corridor 50 mins later. no pushing, he just came out. it was the most mammalian moment of my life. good luck with that trip to hospital, we jumped a few red lights and then parked at a 45 degree angle across an ambulance bay before abandoning the car….

  31. Love this!! <3 Congrats to the baby!


  32. I went into labor two weeks early as Hurricane Sandy was literally flooding our Brooklyn street . . . 25 hours later our beautiful daughter was born!

  33. my labor was 7 hours from first sign (water breaking) to baby. because it was our first baby the midwife was all, “you’ve got HOURS. relax and go back to sleep.” cut to me at our apartment, ready to push, and my husband driving from park slope to st. luke’s roosevelt in fifteen minutes. yes, fifteen. wrong-side-of-the-street, running-every-red-light, we even pulled-up-next-to-a-cop-and-asked-to-blow-through-the-light driving. i arrived fully dilated and our daughter was born 10 minutes later. a fast labor is scary, but awesome. good luck!

  34. I had a pretty “easy” delivery with my first. I was a week after my due date and my doctor decided to induce me. They induced me at 10 pm, my water broke on its own around 1 am, and I went into labor right before 8 am. After 3 contractions and 3 big pushes my son was born within 10 minutes!! I remember my mom was somewhat jealous because apparently she had terribly long labor with all of my sisters and myself. Everyone’s experience is different. I remember being very angry with one of the night nurses after the fact because she told me nothing but labor horror stories before my son was born which made me so scared but I had such a smooth delivery.

  35. My friend Joe and his girlfriend had their second baby just last week… in the front seat of their car! When they pulled up outside the hospital Riina said to Joe: “there’s no time, the baby’s coming RIGHT NOW”… to which Joe responded: “OK darling, don’t worry, I’ll be right back with a doctor” and promptly ran into the hospital building. Sure enough, he was back in one minute flat with a member of emergency staff…only to find Riina with the baby already in her arms! She delivered little Séan all by herself! Amazing!
    And since Joe is a reporter for the BBC, the news actually made the British papers:

  36. Joanna,

    If you’re feeling a little anxious about getting a cab, you should download UBER. I live in San Francisco (where cabs are sometimes sparse depending on your neighborhood) and it’s an awesome way to get a ride! You can pay through your phone and it’s all very easy.

    Hope you have a wonderful day and that your little one comes soon : )

  37. 10 hours for my first; my water broke at 4 a.m. (No contractions prior; I woke up in a puddle!)and I delivered her just after 2 p.m. My second was about 7 hours from water breaking at 1 a.m. to delivery just after 8 a.m. Only a few intermittent contractions before my water broke with him. I agree with some of the other ladies; stay somewhere closer if you can! ;) Although, the roads are pretty empty in the middle of the night, too. All the best to you!

  38. My first came after an hour of labor, all natural, but my second just didn’t seem to want to come out yet. After he was over 2 weeks late, the doctor said he’d have to induce, much to my dismay. That was quick but harder. He was kind of a whiner at times and I used to think it was because he was forced to be born before he was ready:)) Best of luck – think of how many of us are out here – I’m in Greece – cheering you on!

    • PS I forgot to mention that my mother had her 4th in the car on the way to the hospital – she held his head in her hands. Everytime she passed that corner, for years to come, she’d say ‘this is where Mike was born’.

  39. Don’t wait for a cab– if you are in labor and it’s coming on fast, call and ambulance, they will take you and you will get there much faster!

  40. 35 hours! Luckily, I was able to wait out 17 hours of labor at home before we headed to the hospital. Crossing my fingers that what everyone is saying about second babies coming faster is true.

    Good luck, Joanna! Can’t wait to see pictures of the baby and know if it is a boy or a girl!!!

  41. Oh man, I just had my second baby 6 weeks ago and we didn’t make it to the hospital! He was born in my tiny hatchback, three miles from the hospital, at a gas station! My contractions started the night before but were light and irregular for about 17hrs until all of a sudden they were intense and 3 min apart! On the way to the hospital I thought we still had plenty of time based on how it had gone with my first baby, but then I could feel the ring of fire and his head crowning! My husband had just enough time to pull over and catch him. My advice: wear a dress and don’t wear underwear on your way to the hospital, just in case!

  42. A says...

    My first girl was a due date baby, born after a little under 6 hours at the hospital, and only about 20 minutes of pushing. So, with my second, who’s now 4 months old, I was instructed to “run, not walk!”. We’re in Manhattan as well, and we ended up deciding to induce, since I was very effaced and dilated – and I didn’t want to be stuck at home alone with a 3yo as a labor assistant! Anyway, girl #2 took about 8 hours, starting from no contractions to baby in arms, and with no pitocin. Also random is that my ob had to break my water both times to push – I can’t imagine how quickly it would have gone otherwise!

    Good luck!

  43. I was ready to push 30 minutes after my water broke and that was with my first baby! I only pushed 20 minutes and then she was here! But that is how it was for a lot of the women in my family! Good luck!!

  44. I went from “I’m feeling a bit weird” (10pm) to being rerouted (on the phone) from our planned hospital because they were full (“could I wait a few hours and call back?”), to dropping no1 off at a friend’s house at 11:20 and baby sister being born at 12:20 after a drive to the (new) hospital (where we were not preregistered and not familiar) and answering questions like “Name… insurance….” with “I think I need to take my pants off”. I think the midwife literally ran down the hall to catch.

  45. My first labor was about 24 hours from the start of “real” painful contractions until birth. I was 4 cm dilated when I got to the hospital and had the baby about 14 hours later. In my second labor, I was 6-7 cm dilated when I got to the hospital and still able to breathe pretty easily through the contractions. I felt silly being at the hospital so “early” but the baby was born 4 hours after we arrived at the hospital. 3 hours of pushing with my first and 20 minutes of pushing with my second. I thought my second labor was pretty much ideal… much faster than my first but not crazy fast.

  46. 19 hours with the first (4 hours of pushing) and 12 hours with the second (1 hour of pushing)…good luck to you…keeping my fingers crossed for you for an easy birth that brings you joy!

  47. For my first, I was in labor for 24 hours (from first contraction to birth). For my second… 4 hours! When I first started having contractions, I took a bath, and was prepping for the long haul. Then before I knew it, my contractions were 2 minutes apart and we were speeding to the hospital! I agree with some others… Stay with a friend! It’s only for a few more days. Then you’ll have peace of mind and not have to stress about having a baby in the cab! Also an early congratulations… In my opinion, the birth of your children is THE most exciting thing.

  48. Yep, second babies come fast! From my first contraction to holding her in my arms took just under two hours. My husband was working graveyard shift and I had to call him home from work. By the time we were ready to go she was ready to come…so she was born in the living room. Luckily the paramedics made it just in time and took us via ambulance to the hospital after the delivery. The minute those contractions are regular you should head out the door.

    I’m so excited and nervous for you! Good luck!

  49. For my first, I was in labor for 24 hours (from first contraction to birth). For my second… 4 hours! When I first started having contractions, I took a bath, and was prepping for the long haul. Then before I knew it, my contractions were 2 minutes apart and we were speeding to the hospital! I agree with some others… Stay with a friend! It’s only for a few more days. Then you’ll have peace of mind and not have to stress about having a baby in the cab! Also an early congratulations… In my opinion, the birth of your children is THE most exciting thing.

  50. I don’t want to scare you Joanna, but I had my second baby in my bathroom. I woke up at 2:15 am and at 3:15am my husband was finally ready to go, but I was in full-on labor. By the time the paramedics showed up, baby Roman’s head was out! 2 hours of labor. He’s completely fine but wow, it was so fast, and I couldn’t believe I did it without drugs! Craziness!

  51. I have heard that in general, labor the second time around is half the length of the first time around.

    My first labor was all back labor. Second time around I felt a little crampy and that was labor. Took me a few hours to recognize that.

    Wishing you smooth sailing!


    That’s what we did. From Brooklyn to the upper east side. I was worried about traffic, but it was time to go to the hospital at 1 am, so no traffic in sight!

    My son (first baby) arrived right on his due date!

    Good luck! You will do great!

  53. I was induced at 42 weeks on a Friday at 5pm and Charlie wasn’t born til SUNDAY at 11:03am via c-section. It was horrible. If/when we have a second child I will try my damnedest to avoid an induction. Even if I go 42 weeks again!

  54. My second was born an hour and 12 minutes after I arrived at the hospital. Contractions never got horrible until my water broke. He was born 8 minutes after my water broke, so I definitely wouldn’t wait for that to happen before going in! You can read the whole story here:

    Oliver’s Birth Story

  55. I woke up at 7:00 in the morning feeling I had to go to the bathroom horribly like I always did during the last 3 months but once I did I quickly realized that didn’t help and knew I was in labor and the contractions were coming quick and hard, I made my husband call an ambulance because I just couldn’t get on top of the contractions. The ambulance got here quick and luckily I made it to the hospital and gave birth shortly after. I don’t know if I was in labor during the night but the second one came quick! Super quick!!! Good luck on your delivery!!!!!

  56. I kid you not – my mom was at the hospital in the elevator on her way up to be induced with me. All of a sudden I started coming right there in the elevator. Within twenty minutes I had arrived. Apparently the doctor literally had to run to get to the room in time.

    My mother swears that it was the most excruiating fifteen minutes of her life. She said it was worse than my older sister’s birth which was 23 hours long.

    My thoughts are with you!

  57. My first labor, at 37 weeks, was 5 hours start to finish (including 3 hours of pushing since she was facing the wrong way (not breech). With my second I went in for my 37 week check and was 7cm already, with no contractions. I was admitted and the OB broke my water and she was born 1 hour and 3 pushes later! My third baby was similar. At 37 weeks I was 8 cm with no contractions, so I was admitted, my water broken and he came out 1 hour and 2 pushes later! My OB says I am that person in the news that delivers at home never having gone into labor…we just know it so we catch them before we get to that point!

  58. MW says...

    My first was 10 days early (5 lbs 9 ozs), 20 hours of contractions and 41 minutes of pushing. My second was 3 weeks early (8lbs 3 ozs) with 17 hours of contractions and 17 minutes of pushing. My primary doctor was on vacation for both of my deliveries!!

    All babies have their own agenda :) Enjoy those little fingers and toes!

  59. 94 hours with my first – yes, NINTY-FOUR, 3 days of contractions 5-7 minutes apart, and then 22 hours of active labour with 45 minutes of pushing –
    Second baby was 20 hours of labour, 5 hours of active labour, and 20 minutes of pushing.

    People think I am making it up when I say I was in labour for 4 days, but my twin sister had the exact same thing happen with her first. ( her second was a c-section)

    I guess we’re freaks of nature? Not meant to procreate, or something?

    Good luck, Jo!

    • I was also in labor for four days! Ugh, my daughter was posterior and she just didn’t want to move. I was planning a home birth but on the 4th day I had enough and went to the hospital for an epidural and some rest. I slept for 2 hours, she turned around, I let the epidural wear off and then I pushed for less than an hour. So crazy. I thought labor would never end.

    • Ahh, same story for me, basically! I had to get the epidural JUST so I could sleep so I could get enough energy to push. I really did think labour was never going to end, days and days of it is craaaazy.
      With my second, I wanted the pain meds ( the first time I resisted as long as I could) but I ended up moving so much quicker by the time I asked for them, it was ‘to late’. My midwives were great , but what it taught me was :
      never have an ideal plan. You’re almost sure to not get it. Or , you’ll get the opposite. haha.

  60. Our second baby arrived much faster. I didn’t think my contractions were strong enough to head to the hospital but our doula encouraged us to head there any way. After they asked me a million questions I was checked and was 4-5 cm. Less than 90 minutes later I was holding our daughter, our doctor didn’t even make it, she was delivered by our wonderful nurse. Best if luck!!!

  61. 1st babe – 40+ hrs of labor followed by a c-section
    2nd babe – still pregnant (due New Years), waiting to see! Fingers crossed for a successful VBAC

    • I was the same way, Lindsay! I was induced at 42 weeks along and Charlie ended up being born via c-section almost 42 hours later.

      I’d never stayed in a hospital before, so being there that long and then having to stay for 3 days after his birth was horrible. I kept asking when I would be able to leave. The nurses couldn’t understand why I wanted to get out of there so quickly. It was five days of hell.

  62. My labor lasted around 57 hours, with 2 1/2 hours of pushing! We were in my OB’s office doing a non-stress test, as she was about a week late, when I felt the first contraction. That was Friday afternoon and she didn’t arrive until 11:52 pm on Sunday. She was posterior, so they warned me labor would be long – I just didn’t realize it would be THAT long! It goes without saying that she was well worth it all :)

  63. My first baby was crazy because I had no clue what was happening. We had just moved to Vegas three weeks beforehand. I felt sick to my stomach. Then weak cramps started. I tried to call my husband and couldn’t get a hold of him. Then my phone died and I couldn’t find my charger. They say to time your contractions so I did and they were three mins apart. I went to my neighbors who I had briefly met over the fence a few days before. I asked if I could use her phone. At the time her nurse friend was there and told me I just needed to get to the hospital. We got a hold of my husband on the drive to the hospital and he met me there. They had to wheel me in on a wheelchair because the contractions were so bad. We got there and I was ready to push so they got me barely changed in my gown and then I pushed for a few mins and out he came! Then the second one I called my husband the second I started feeling sick to my stomach. By the time he reached home contractions had barely started. Because we left immediately we got to the hospital with enough time to put a monitor on me and say yep, you are about to have this baby and in two pushes she was out. I was worried about my third because we now lived an hours drive away from the hospital and I knew I wouldn’t make it. Thankfully, my water broke in the middle of the night – no contractions. We got to the hospital and not a single contractions for a few hours. Got up to walk around. Small contractions started. Walked for about twenty mins more and my contractions were a min. and a half apart. Went back to the hospital bed and told my husband to get someone because I was about to have a baby. They came in and literally ten mins later I had another little girl.

  64. You really should stay somewhere closer this week – so nerve-wracking indeed! My labor was lightning fast – my water broke at 3 a.m., I paced around downstairs while my husband slept but then I woke him up at 4 and said, “we gotta go!” and apparently my contractions were 2 minutes apart. He raced me to the hospital and when I got there they said, you’re having a bbay right now! No time for any pain meds so we went for it and it was the most rewarding experience ever. He was born 5 1/2 weeks early so it took me by a major surprise. And he was my first! Best of luck!!

  65. I feel traumatized just reading this post! I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in the car and have that experience. Yikes! Wishing you all the best (and a far less stressful experience) on delivering your second baby!

  66. Labor with both my boys started with my water breaking at home. My 1st son was born 12 hours later and my 2nd son was born 6.5 hours later.

    I’m only 15 minutes from the hospital, so I stayed home as long as I could. I was only in the hospital 4 hours before the birth of my 1st and only 1.5 hours before the birth of my 2nd.

    My 2nd is 5 weeks old. I literally felt his head drop down and pushed 3 times and he was out. It was crazy fast! Prior to his birth, I didn’t believe that 2nd babies could come so fast. Seems like that is the norm!

  67. Oh goodness! That sounds very nerve-racking!! You will be in my thoughts – Good Luck!! xo

  68. Joanna, good luck!! I will be thinking of you this week. I was very lucky . . . I was induced for high blood pressure, and was fully dilated at about 2 in the afternoon . . . Brycen came at 4:15. The hard part was not knowing it was only going to take 2-2.5 hours, I kept thinking . . . this could take all day!!

  69. I only have one child and the labor lasted 42 hours. If I have another I hope it’s shorter! I can’t believe all these short labors–lucky! I’m wishing you a smooth labor, Joanna!

  70. My first was long and hard and ended in a c-section. They told me with my second, since I didn’t have a vaginal birth the first time, that this would be like a first birth. But my second went rather quickly. I had mild mild cramping starting around 8am. It was regular cramping, but I didn’t think anything of it. Contractions started getting really intense around 12:30, roughly 2 minutes apart. Got to the hospital at 2pm, and she was born at 5:37pm. So very fast in my point of view! Good luck! Can’t wait to hear the news!!

  71. twenty-six hours. but honestly, i slept through about 90% of it. they had to wake me up to start pushing. ha! getting to the hospital late was one of my biggest fears. i had my son at the base hospital and i was terrified that we’d be off-base out in town somewhere when labor started and i told my husband that he’d have to start honking like crazy to get through the gate (it’s so slow being one of the largest bases and they scan everyone’s IDs as they come through). luckily, we were at home when labor started and we really didn’t have to rush at all since william didin’t arrive till the next morning.

  72. My first took 30 hours…with #2, I labored through the night (about 8 hours) before deciding it was probably time to get going. I wanted to stay at home as long as possible before heading in. Well…we got to the hospital and walked into L&D…and she was born 7 minutes later! My husband almost missed the birth because he was parking the car. Honestly, the contractions felt intense, but even walking into the room I didn’t feel the need to push. Until I DID. Three contractions later and she was out. Nuts. Thinking of you!!!!

  73. I knew I was in labour when I woke up with back pain at 3am. Things progressed slowly throughout that day and we didn’t make a move to hospital until 4am the following morning (I was 9cms dilated though when we arrived so very nearly ready to push!). My daughter arrived at 9.34am.

    I really hope the next one is a bit quicker but I did like having lots of time to organise last minute pre-labour prep and for my body to learn to cope with the pain.

    Good luck with everything!

  74. My first labor was 8 hours from the first time I went to the hospital until my son was born. The kicker is that they sent me home after about an hour, and I, too, have about an hour commute to the hospital, not because of traffic but because of distance. When I called them, telling them I was fairly certain I needed to go back, they told me to go to my family practitioner, who is a local doctor (the joys of rural medicine), and she sent me back in an ambulance.

    I am not excited for this experience if/when we have baby #2. A friend who had an experience similar to mine refused to leave the hospital with her second child. I’m fairly certain I’ll do the same.

  75. my first labor was fifteen hours, and my second was less than five! my doctor had to break my water, and within 30 minutes i was pushing. it was surreal. good luck!

  76. I was a second baby, my mother says that I was of the three of her kids to make her suffer in much pain during labor and a day to deliver. My older brother she said was a very fast delivering, and my younger sister the same. So I think what you has heard is just a myth.

  77. Everybody’s different and your second may take just as long! (My sister’s second took 12 hours, for example)

  78. Baby number 1: 24 hours of labor before 15 minutes/3 pushes.
    Baby number 2: 45 minutes. That 45 minutes encompasses “1 cm dilated” to shouts of “tell the doctor to run!” I was at the hospital already, but my second got delivered by a nurse. Again, three pushes. (Babies with small heads are great!)

  79. I woke up at 9:30 am and thought my water had broken. We arrived at the hospital at 11:30. My son was born at 2:59pm. I didn’t even have any contractions until we were almost at the hospital. This was my first.

    I have a friend who had a good half-hour drive to the hospital for her second child. She had to drive herself and almost gave birth in the car on the highway!

  80. My first was about 12 hours start to finish. Nothing fussy or dramatic, that’s just how long the progress took. My second was only 4 hours. I woke up at 2:00 am with contractions, told myself to chill and go back to sleep, and then two hours later was in the car flying down the interstate to the hospital. I was 9 cm when we got there and the only reason it took so long to get out the door was that I insisted on getting dressed, which was stupid because of course the first thing they do when you walk into the hospital is swap all your clothes for a sterile gown. A little paperwork, a call to my doctor, a couple of pushes and we were a family of four. It was perfect. :)

  81. First took about 13 hours total. But with the second (not to confirm the nurses and make you nervous!) – the nurses told me to push and, not joking, the second push my little girl came out. Good news is the second delivery is MUCH easier. Bad news/good news is the timing is a lot faster.. I am sure you will arrive in time – just hop in that cab even if you’re unsure! Thinking of you!

  82. First baby was 13 hrs and second was less than 3 from the very first contraction til she was in our arms. By the time I realized I was in labor we hopped in the Jeep for a 45 minute ride to the hospital and her head popped out within 10 minutes.

  83. My first was 7 hours from water breaking till he was out. (No contractions when water broke, so they started me on pitocin. My 2nd was 2 hours start to finish. I was 45 minutes away from the hospital. I woke up in transition. They broke my water as I delivered. Barely made it! My 3rd was just under 5 hours. Three babies in less than 3 years. The only thing that was similar with each of the births was that my husband was there, and I went natural.

  84. One of my co-workers just had her second baby last week- after 40 minutes (yes, you read that right: minutes) of labor!!!!

  85. 2 things to ease your worried mama mind:

    1) a beautiful piece on enjoying and appreciating the last days of pregnancy. I share this with every pregnant woman I know.

    2) you may have seen this already but just a reminder that even if you do have your baby in the back seat of a cab it doesn’t have to be all scary drama. This awesome mama keeps so cool calm and collected throughout the whole ordeal

    No matter what happens it will all be fine! Try to enjoy it!

  86. I was in denial that I was in labor because my contractions didn’t feel the way they were explained to me (and three weeks early). By the time my husband convinced me it was worth a hospital visit, I was pretty far along and when I got to triage I could feel the head. My water never broke so the triage staff was annoyed with me for thinking it was so urgent, but 1/2 hour later I had a baby in my arms. I had to walk up to L & D because I felt like if I sat down a baby would come out.

    In retrospect, though, I would have hated to go through the entire labor in the hospital. If you can stay somewhere closer to the hospital this week you should definitely do that!

  87. My second labour was 40 minutes – baby born at home and planning the same for number 3, cannot imagine travelling for an hour whilst in labour

  88. My son arrived within four hours. Actually, two and a half, but because it was my first the midwife didn’t believe me, so she put me ‘on hold’, while she first delivered two other babies.

    So if my first was already this fast, that makes me pretty curious how fast my second will be. I guess i’ll be one of those women delivering on my doorstep. :)

    • the doorstep off course… it’s not that every day or so women are delivering babies om my doorstep… just saying.

  89. My first was 5 hours so my midwife expected a fairly quick delivery for my second. And she was right, Margot took 2 hours. I think you’re body remembers what to do when you have your second which is why it’s often quicker. But be warned about the lingering contractions after your second. It was not fun for a few days.

  90. My first was 7 hours. This post makes me nervous about having a second! Haha. Our hospital is about 45 minutes away without (in Los Angeles…so traffic is nuts) Our birth class instructor recommended us getting a hotel closer to the hospital we didn’t need to this time but I agree with that advice!

  91. My mother-in-law was born in the car on the corner of Hollywood and Vine in LA. Pretty crazy!

  92. My second baby was quick – but I had probably been in labour for a day or so, but I didn’t know it, just had backache. Silent labour, they call it. When we got to hospital I wasn’t in much pain, it all died down and I was convinced I would be sent home. Arrival at hospital – 8pm. Delivery – 11.35. How wrong was I?! Much less painful, but very intense. If I could wish a labour on anyone, it would be one like that. Fingers crossed.

  93. This comment has been removed by the author.

  94. With my son, who is now 2 1/2, my water broke 3 DAYS before he was born. I was in labor for about 36 hours and pushed for 5. I have to agree with you that the time goes by much quicker than it sounds. I’m now 13 weeks along with my second and I’m praying that your doctor is right about 2nd babies. I do it all again, but I’d really perfer not to! I hope you’re timing is perfect.

  95. You should download that “hail a cab” app so you can call it immediately and it will arrive at your door. Don’t take chances delivering in the back seat of a cab! Though it makes a great after dinner party story, living it can’t possibly be as funny!!

  96. My first was born a couple weeks after Toby, and my labor with her was about 10 hours. I just had my second daughter 3 weeks ago, and luckily we were at my 40 week appointment at the birth center an hour and 45 minutes from our house, because my water broke in the office and she was in my arms an hour later! I was in shock for a few hours after she was born because I hardly even got into the mindset of being in labor.

    Best wishes to all of you, it is such an exciting time!

  97. Babies have their own way and time, but it’ll work out fine. I agree with commenter above who said that if you’re not comfortable where you are, baby will slow down until you’re in a better place. Babies are wise like that :)

    Every blessing to you – s/he’s going to be magic!

  98. If you can afford it, I would get a hotel room near the hospital when you think you’re close. Or stay with a friend. Those stories freak me out.

  99. My second happened a lot like your friend Jenny. With my first I was in labor for a total of about 8 hours. When I went into labor with my second my midwife kept telling me not to come to the birth center yet because my contractions were kind of erratic. She wanted them to be more consistent before we made the drive in. In hindsight that was RIDICULOUS as it was my second baby and there is a history of precipitous births in my family. Anyway, to make a long story short my contractions went from 0-60 VERY quickly while I was eating breakfast, and there was no way I was getting in the car at that point. I ended up delivering my daughter on my bed! My stepmother thank god was visiting to help us and she actually delivered her, as my husband was with our 15 month old trying to keep him calm while I was shouting in labor!

    • OMG, this is like my story. My first was 7.5 hrs start to finish. My second…I was on the phone with my midwife to say contractions were 6-8 min apart when they came back to back and my water broke. Out she came, delievered by my mom (a nurse that hadn’t done obstetrics in like 35 years!) in the middle of a Canadian snowstorm in my bed! It ended up being so peaceful (well, except being stitched up by lamplight with the midwife using a cookie sheet for supplies). I was the talk of the neighbourhood for a while!

  100. Oh good luck Joanna – that would stress me out, not knowing if i could get a cab.
    My first labour was 13 hrs from first contraction to birth – second was 3.5 and seemed even quicker, we left for the hospital 20 mins after the first contraction and it would have been to painful to leave any later so i was glad to have left then. Best of luck x

  101. Good luck, Joanna! You’re as much of a hero as all of your heroes!

    We all look forward to reading about how well everything turned out :)

  102. mp says...

    49 hours from water breaking to in my arms. i am very much looking forward to and holding on to the belief that ‘second babies come faster’!

  103. First baby: Hospital to Birth: 11 Hours
    Second baby: Hospital to Birth: 4 Hours
    Good luck Joanna!

  104. my first contraction was on a thursday night, and my girl was placed in my arms in the wee hours on sunday morning.

  105. Yeah, about those second babies…

    With my second I wasn’t really sure I was in ‘real’ labor (but probably had been for hours). I was shopping at Target, making dinner, etc. At around 9pm I had my Mom come over to watch our son and we headed to the hospital ‘just in case’ and kinda expected to be sent home. We casually checked into the maternity ward, I put on a gown, and chatted happily with the nurse on duty while the OB on duty checked me.

    ‘Uh, get her in a room’, she said with a mock-calm sort of urgency. I was 10cm. My daughter was born shortly afterward and I never had what I thought was a ‘real’-feeling labor. When they asked me to push I was like, ‘…are you sure??’ But sure enough…

    So…yeah, don’t second-guess yourself with the second baby labor!

  106. From start to finish, about 48 days. Yep, I was exhausted…

  107. My brother’s labor was TWENTY MINUTES LONG. We lived very close to the hospital and he was born into a room full of women–he was too quick for the doctor and my dad had run to the bathroom!

    Did I mention he was the second child?

  108. our 2nd baby was born 3 weeks ago – 3 hrs from first contraction to delivery. I was a crazy woman in the cab from Prospect
    Heights to NYU (1 hr in am rush hour)! Good luck – it is fast and furious the 2nd time around!

  109. My DIL had her first child, a daughter, unassisted, at home, in a kiddie pool of warm water. The labor was 4 hours from start to finish. Her second child, a son, was born at home in the same manner in 1.5 hours. It’s the medical system that gets in the way of relaxed and natural birthing! Good luck!

  110. My first arrived after 12 hours of labor, and my second after less than 6. Honestly, I’m so thankful we had my second baby at home. He was fast. My midwife says what most of these posts have confirmed, your second baby is generally your fastest labor. Those who go on to have third and more babies generally don’t have labor as fast as the second! <3

  111. My labour was under three hours, I also had a planned homebirth.

  112. Start to finish- my first took 12 hours, my second 1 hour and my third was just 40 minutes!!! Good luck

  113. My first labor was about 12 hrs. start to finish, and my second was about 7 hrs. However, with the second, I went from 3 cm. to birth of baby in about 45 minutes.

    I went into the second labor hearing lots of stories of very fast second births so it was very frustrating to be stuck at 3 cm for the first 6 hours of labor. Little did I know, it was to be over much sooner than expected.

  114. Just had my first, Alice, at home labor lasted 39 hours- active labor -29 hours.

  115. (I should probably also mention that this happened in April last year & Mother and Baby were just fine). He was so small when he was born that the nurses had to pick him up & put him on a pillow on our laps so we could hold him. He is a huge child now!

  116. I wish you the best of lucks! A sunny day, a gentle cab driver who just happens to be on your door when you need it to be, a quick and easy labour and a nice nurse!!!
    Anyway, I hope you and your baby girl (I believ it’s going to be a girl) are safe and healthy and happy!!

  117. My first labor was about 8.5 hours with 45 minutes of pushing — my second one only lasted about 4 hours start to finish, and I pushed ONCE. It was insane! Good luck xx

  118. My cousin had an amniotic band whilst she was pregnant, and if the baby kicked through it she would go into labour immediately. This happened to her at 33 weeks (thank God it wasn’t sooner) & they had to tie a damp towel around her so that the baby didn’t come out sooner than them arriving at the hospital. she lives a 15 minutes walk from the maternity ward she gave birth in.

    I have to say her situation was incredibly rare, it happens to something 0.03% of women!

  119. a friend of mine just had her third in twenty minutes after arriving at the hospital! good luck joanna! you can do this! :)

  120. My mom went into labor at her favorite restaurant eating a special Italian dish! Needless to say, our waiter received a fantastic tip :)
    The next time around, when she was anticipating her fourth child, we went to the same restaurant hoping it would get the ball rolling, it didn’t but it did create a fun memory!

  121. My first took around 21 hours; he was quite content to stay put. My second, on the other hand, was a “stop and drop” baby. My water broke at 1:30am and I delivered him at 3:45am. No time for an epidural and barely enough time to hook me up to antibiotics for strep. I thought I would get to the hospital, get an epi and go back to sleep. The joke was on me. By the time I got to triage, I was at 7 cm. I was more than ready to deliver by the time I got a room. The doctor took a while to get there too, but the nurses were prepared to play catch. Both deliveries worked out perfectly.

  122. I never went into labor on my own and had to be induced! It was about twelve hours from being induced that I gave birth.

  123. When my water broke, it was nearly midnight and the doctors gave me my baby at 5:13 in the morning…five hours and a half for a first baby is really short.
    So I guess I must prepare myself for the second one because as you said, it’s much faster.
    I cross my fingers for you, I’m sure everything will be fine :)
    Have a nice day.

  124. My first took 12 hours. My second took a little over 2 hours. It was much easier and faster.

  125. 48 hours! But… He arrived right on his due date!

    • 4 hours of pushing. I had a midwife, though. An obgyn would have never let me go that long. In the end, it was all so very worth it.

  126. Two hours. Fast and furious and pain-free. (At home, in the birth tub.) It was amazing.

  127. My first took around 21 hours; he was quite content to stay put. My second, on the other hand, was a “stop and drop” baby. My water broke at 1:30am and I delivered him at 3:45am. No time for an epidural and barely enough time to hook me up to antibiotics for strep. I thought I would get to the hospital, get an epi and go back to sleep. The joke was on me. By the time I got to triage, I was at 7 cm. I was more than ready to deliver by the time I got a room. The doctor took a while to get there too, but the nurses were prepared to play catch. Both deliveries worked out perfectly.

  128. My first labor was five hours, so with my second baby my midwives told me to call them at the first sign of any labor to prevent cab/accidental homebirth. Like you I was super nervous about getting stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital! It was to the point where I was considering whether it would be better to take the subway if it happened at rush hour. (I decided NO.)

    I had lots of prelabor with my second and triggered the plan (got the babysitter on her way to my place) several times before the actual labor happened. My first baby was a bit early, so we were all on high alert starting at 37 weeks! But she stuck around in there until past 41 weeks. When real labor finally happened it was a quick 3.5 hours from first contraction to birth.

    One nice thing to remember is that labor often starts in the middle of the night – we had the quickest drive up the west side highway at 2am! Chances are you won’t have trouble. But oh my can I relate to the fretting. I fretted and fretted and fretted during those final weeks!

    Also: my second baby is a fourth of July girl. :) Maybe you’ll have the same!

  129. I just had my first baby 2 weeks ago and my labor was 32 hours long. It was so tough and I’m hoping when I have my second it will be much faster! Good luck :)

    • My first was 33 hours. But my second we ran every red light and didnt have time to register at the front desk.

  130. Good luck! There’s a couple of taxi-hailing apps now–Uber, etc.–that’ll help you get a cab/car. Recommended!

  131. Maybe get an Uber when it’s time? That way if your baby does come early, at least she/ he arrives in style!

    • omg, yes! i was thinking the same thing!

    • Thirded! Uber is perfect for exactly this sort of thing, when you think that it HAS to be easier than waiting for a taxi. Especially if you’re prone to anxiety, and in a very high-stress situation, there’s something calming and controlling about being able to see on your phone where the car is, when it’ll be at your door, what your driver’s name is, etc. Plus not having to fuss with paying them when you get to the hospital. They’re a little pricier, but for the exact things you need here: speed and ease!

      Good luck, good luck!

    • Yes, i’m fourthing this recommendation! Totally worth it, especially since once you get there you can just hop out of the car without worrying about paying!

  132. Yes, 2nd baby are generally coming a bit faster. I, and my other doula friends, always tell our clients to take it easy and listen to your body and your baby before rushing to the hospital. Have fun :)

  133. My first labor was 16 hours from the time my water broke till birth, but my second… about 2 hours from start to finish. I made it to the hospital without having a single contraction and then all of the sudden they came, and he was born! Good luck!!!

  134. My second child, my daughter, was born twenty minutes after we arrived at the hospital – I did not even have time to register at the desk. I labored peacefully and easily for about five hours at home and did not really even feel intense pain or urgency until we were in the car on the ten minute drive to the hospital. By the time I got there I was pushing and it was twenty minutes of hellish pain because I was all mixed up during the transition period. I am due with my third the first of November and plan on heading to the hospital EARLY. And I will probably have a terribly long labor….:)

  135. Agree with Lana…or get a hotel room nearby!

  136. I was in labor for 6 hours with my first so I was certain my second would come shooting out of me like a rocket. I was wrong. I labored for 22 hours with my second!
    I hope this next birth is easy and fast. Can’t wait to meet your new little one.

  137. I’ve been a birth doula in New York City for over 8 years. I’ve helped over 150 mamas through labor, many of them 2nd or 3rd babies. My rule is generally this: with a first time mom we try and stay home as long as possible, but with a 2nd or 3rd timer we head to the place of birth as soon as she is having regular contractions or the waters break. I’ve only had 1 client (2nd time mom) deliver outside of the hospital and even then we made it to the entrance of the ER and she delivered in the car!

  138. My first took 22 hours. My second took 8 hours. My third took 6 hours. I think you’ll be fine. It’s pretty rare that labor happens THAT quickly. Another interesting thing about labor I found is that it can slow down if you are not in what feels like a good time/place to deliver. For instance, I had my 2nd and third babies at home and whenever my kids would come into the room I was laboring in to say hi or check on me my contractions would sloooooow down or even stop. I eventually had them just stay away so I could get on with it!

  139. My first baby – who weighed 11 pounds – was 4 hours start to finish. I expected my second to come even faster, but instead he took his time and it was 21 hours before he arrived. He weighed less too only 8 lbs. 11 oz. I went to the hospital way too early for the second one but I had the same advice from my midwife – get there as soon as you feel the first contraction. It was so discouraging to see women admitted after me and deliver before I did! I walked the halls for hours trying to get my little guy to MOVE IT.

    • Wow, I guess you never know! My first was 4 hours, too, but my second was… 50 MINUTES! Thankfully, it was a home birth, with midwife just a few blocks away, so she made it in plenty of time. I think you’ll make it to the hospital just fine, as long as you don’t wait too long to go :) I am so excited to hear news of your baby that I kept checking your blog all weekend!

  140. C says...

    From when I started contractions at 4 in the morning to when my son was born: about 37 hours! That was kind of awful. I’m *really* hoping my second baby is faster. Some estimate that the second labor time is half of what your first time was, but you never can predict exactly. Good luck and I’m so excited to see this new little one!

    • That is how my first was. I woke up at around 4am on 7/28 with mild contractions, labored pretty easily all day at home until about 10pm when they started to get more intense, went to the hospital at 3cm and labored all night and day… she was born at 5pm on 7/29. With my second, things seemed to progress faster, but I stalled at about 8cm and pushed for over 2 hours. Both labors from start to finish were 30+ hours, but not all intense craziness.

  141. Yes-get there fast! My first born was 12 hours but from my water breaking until birth, my second was 3.5 hours! My husband kept telling me to take my time (he claims it was to keep me calm but I think he had no idea) but it felt like we were barely there before I had her!

  142. my labor was 16 hours from the time my water broke until the moment he was born. i’ve heard similar stories about second babies – crazy! i had a friend who labored at home for a few hours with her second before heading into the hospital. she called me as she was getting into the car, and i got a text 40 minutes later to say they had their little girl! literally walked into the hospital and immediately delivered her daughter. nuts!

  143. My contractions start at 5AM in the morning, but was still mild though regular. It became unbearable around 2PM, and we were at the hospital at 4PM (after stopping by to get some burgers on the way. Hard labor starts around 6PM (baby was OP, premature pushing, swollen cervix). Baby is out by 1210AM with 20 mins pushing. I count labor starts at 6PM, so its about 6 hrs.

  144. Do you have a friend that lives closer to the hospital that might let you stay with them for a few days? I’m feeling nervous just reading this, so I can imagine how you must be! PS: Labor lasted about 10 hours from the first soft contraction., but less than 15 min and 3 pushes from the first Mother-of-a-Contraction! :)
    Lana @ Monday’s Nugget

    • You took the words right out of my mouth! I felt anxious reading it, too. BONNE CHANCE JOANNA!!!!

    • I’m due August 6th but since my first was 6 weeks early my midwives have warned me to get to the hospital ASAP if I feel anything is different… With my first my labour was 15 hours from the time my water broke to the time he arrived. 6 hours from my first contraction, and 1 hour of actual pushing..if that.

      Needless to say, we’re almost considering a homebirth…. not by choice!

    • My first was 2 weeks early and my 2nd 2 weeks late!

      Both labours were similar amounts of time….second one was definitely NOT quicker!!

      Good luck!!