If you’re pregnant and getting ready to have your baby, taking a tour of your hospital's "Labor and Delivery" ward to find out more about what will happen on the big day isn't the worst idea. And since we're used to seeing the words "labor and delivery" together, it’s easy to think they're the same thing. Turns out, they're not. While they're both typically part of the childbirth process, there are important differences between labor and delivery that every soon-to-be parent should know.
According to What to Expect, "labor" refers to the long process your body goes through to prepare for childbirth. During this time your uterus contracts and your brain releases hormones to make your cervix thin and dilate. It can take days, or even weeks, of labor to get to the point when you are ready to give birth. The Mayo Clinic explains that "delivery" actually refers to the second stage of childbirth, which involves pushing your baby out of your uterus and through the birth canal (if you have a vaginal birth).
As Certified Nurse Midwife Anette Ferrell, MSN, ARNP, CNM, at Hibiscus Women's Center in Orlando, Fla. told Romper via email, childbirth experiences can actually vary considerably, so not every single childbirth experience follows the aforementioned pattern. Some pregnant people never experience labor and, as a result, need an induction of labor or C-section to safely deliver their babies. Other women choose to be induced during an elective induction or have an elective C-section, and never experience labor at all.
So with all that in mind, here's everything you need to know about differences between labor and delivery: