There are three basic stages to birthing: labor, delivery, and placental delivery. The average length of birthing is 14 hours for the first birth and 8 hours for births after that. This is only an average though. Some women will experience mild true contractions for 24 hours before significant dilation begins. Some women have labors that last an hour or less. Although it may seem ideal for women who have experienced extremely long labors to have a 20 minute birthing process, there are risks with short labors. The most likely thing with short labors is that you won't get to the hospital on time. Since no one knows when labor will begin or how long it will last, it is extremely important for every woman who is pregnant to have a good understanding of what happens during birthing and what to do as soon as labor begins.