Do you want a long labour?

Steph McGee

I’m a Trauma Informed Clinical Hypnotherapist on a mission to help. And hypnosis feels like a magic wand. But in truth? The real magic is you.

Is not a question pregnant people are often asked! And even as a Hypnobirthing teacher, while we talk about the benefits of a nice long labour – even I don’t out right ask this question! But as were here….

Do you want a REALLY long labour?

And I’m only asking because I did!

I wanted my labour to be as long as possible. And if I’m going to be completely open with you? I wanted a nice long pregnancy as well. A good week or two over 40 weeks was my plan.

Why would I want a long labour?!

Because I’d given birth before and I enjoyed it.  Yep!  Already a Hypnobirthing mummy off two. I’d had two amazing hypnobirths – not perfect – but birth rarely is. Expect the Unexpected is great Hypnobirthing advice!

So I wanted a long labour. Much longer than my last two. Because I enjoy labour so much. And let’s face it – we don’t get to give birth very often. So why not make the most of it?

Did I control the length of labour?

So both my labours had been amazing. My first 10 hours with 50 minutes of established labour. We’d had a takeaway, watched tv, relaxed in bed practising glove anaesthesia (husband snoring). Then headed off to Chipping Norton Maternity Unit to give birth.

It was all rather relaxed – apart from my midwife barking at me get on the bed and  PUSH! (I’ll never understand that part). So I decided my second birth experience would be faster & more efficient.

So I set myself the challenge.

And it worked! Latent labour was spent at a cake decorating class. Home for pizza & tv. Off to bed when things started to ramp up a bit (it was night time after all) and I self hypnotised with glove anaesthesia for a few hours. 

7 hours with just 25 minutes of established labour. This was faster & felt more efficient. And we got into the JR just as our daughter arrived.

How did I do it?

Relaxing in bed felt like the most efficient time of my labour.

But relaxing & being still is not for everyone. Birth is often talked about in terms of staying mobile, helping baby move down and just moving around. The NICE recommendations even say that women should be able to move around as much as they want during labour.

But I lay in bed, using Glove Anaesthesia – or ‘cold hands’ as I called it.

Glove anaesthesia is a traditional hypnosis technique that hypnotherapists use to bring about pain relief. Quite literally, you are hypnotised to numb the painful area.

Hypnobirthing methods have incorporated this technique so that we can use it in labour ourselves. With Glove anaesthesia all I felt was:

  • Movement
  • No pain
  • Increasing power
  • Again, no pain!

So I considered labour to be a nice relaxing day and a restful time chilling out in bed. Then just the established labour bit!

And aside for the glove anaesthsia, I’m convinced that my competitive streak had something to do with the speed of labour. 

Can you control the length of labour?

It’s such a good question. I seemd to. But to be honest? I don’t know the answer. Katharine Graves would certainly have you believe you can:

“Where the mind leads, the body will follow”  Katharine Graves

So Katharine Graves says that where the mind leads the body will follow. And in her hypnobirthing relaxation script Confidence and Power she invites Hypnobirthing parents to:

“Realise that you can decide how you want the birth of your baby to be. YOu decide how your labour is, just how short a time it takes. Will it be less than 6 hours, 3 hours, 2 hours? Take a little while now to choose. Consider too how comfortable it is, how calm & serene…”

Women’s Hour quizzes Katharine on labour length!

Pregnant & having just been trained by Katharine Graves. I listened with baited breath. Katharine was on the Womens Hour podcast & one of the first questions? Drew attention straight to her Confidence & Power script!

Can you really control the length of labour Katharine? YES said Katharine before explaining the amazing mind-body connection of child birth.

But why would you want a LONG labour?

I’m not deluded enough to imagine that many other people would want a long labour just for the enjoyment. But there are benefits to a long labour!


Benefits of a long labour

 Your Perineum!

The two biggest fear hypnobirthing parents tell me about are Pain & Tearing.

Glove anaesthesia can help with the pain (as can other hypnobirthing techniques, comfort measures & pain relief drugs).

And a nice slow, long labour can help reduce the likelihood of a perineal tear. As your baby is born, your perineum needs to stretch as baby’s head moves over it. So during labour, your perineum fills & engorges with blood – which softens it – ready to stretch.

A nice long labour gives your body time to send blood to the perineum & for your perineum to soften. Breathing you baby down also helps. So listening to your body, letting your body take the lead and doing what ever feels right for you when you feel the urge to push.

And no. Midwife PUSH

Did I have a  LONGER labour?


18 hours and just 5 minutes of established labour. I spent my day watching Harry Potter films & eating Cadbury’s Celebrations (a new years baby). Then bed & of course Glove Anaesthesia. 

And yet again? No tearing.


The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. I disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.