I had early labour for about 10 hours and then active labour for about 29 hours. I say I was in labour for 29 hours.
Early labour, some painful cramping, was long for me because I was not dilated even a cm before.
Active labour is when contractions are regular, more intense, and you dilate faster. Except for me who continued struggling to dilate for 29 hours because his cord turned out to be around his neck.
Then comes transition. Which is the last part of active labour before pushing. When you quickly go from 8-10 cm. Or, in my case you never dilate past 9 cm and the nurses run around frantically, shoving their fists up your hoo haa pulling open your cervix and guiding baby down the canal. Yay fun!
Then comes pushing. This is the most grotesque part of labour. Contractions hurt, oh they do, but pushing...ugh. Your body convulses and you spasm and can do nothing but clench every muscle while you shove that thing out of you. I pushed my son out in under 10 minutes. I tore bad and did not care, he was coming out. I was happy. :) I pushed too fast, though. The doctor wasn't ready and my husband said the nurse held his head in a bit. Yeah it didn't feel good.
Now the most wretched part. Once your body relaxes and everything is all good and you don't feel your torn, shredded cookie anymore, the placenta decides to make it's debut. So your tear reopens and you give one final push with a satisfactory warrior cry. But the fun is not done. To make sure every bit is out, the kind nurses must massage this brutally tender uterus. This...this made me cry. I laboured naturally, calmly without so much as an "ahh" until this part. This made me cry out in pain. My body was relaxed, and they took that away from me.